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Full text of "The migrations of early culture; a study of the significance of the geographical distribution of the practice of mummification as evidence of the migrations of peoples and the spread of certain customs and beliefs"

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PUBLICATIONS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER. 



The Migrations of Early Culture. 



Published by the University of Manchester at 

THE UNIVERSITY PRESS (H. M. McKECHNiE, Secretary) 

12, LIME GROVE, OXFORD ROAD, MANCHESTER 

LONGMANS, GREEN & CO. 
LONDON : 39, Paternoster Row 

NEW YORK : 443-449, Fourth Avenue and Thirtieth Street 
BOMBAY : 8, Hornby Road 
CALCUTTA : 303, Bowbazar Street 
MADRAS : 167, Mount Road 



The 

Migrations of Early Culture 

A study of the Significance of thd Geographical 
Distribution of the Practice of Mummification 
as Evidence of the Migrations of Peoples and 
the Spread of certain Customs and Beliefs 



BY 



GRAFTON ELLIOT SMITH, M.A, M.D., F.R.S., 

Professor of Anatomy in the University * 



MANCHESTER 
AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS 

12, LIME GROVE, OXFORD ROAD 

LONGMANS, GREEN 6- CO. 
London, New York,' Bombay, etc. 



,s 




UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER PUBLICATIONS 
No. CII. 



PREFACE. 

* 



When these pages were crudely flung together no 
fate was contemplated for them other than that of publi- 
cation in the proceedings of a scientific society, as an 
appeal to ethnologists to recognise the error of their ways 
and repent. They were intended merely as a mass of 
evidence to force scientific men to recognise and admit 
that in former ages knowledge and culture spread in 
much the same way as they are known to be diffused 
to-day. The only difference is that the pace of migration 
has become accelerated. 

. The re-publication in book form was suggested by the 
Secretary of the Manchester University Press, who thought 
that the matters discussed in these pages would appeal 
to a much wider circle of readers than those who are 
given to reading scientific journals. 

The argument is compounded largely of extracts from 
the writings of recognised authorities, and the author 
does not agree with all the statements in the various 
extracts he has quoted : this mode of presenting the case 
has been adopted deliberately, with the object of demon- 
strating that the generally admitted facts are capable of 
a more natural and convincing explanation than that 

336765 



vi PREFACE. 

put forth ex cathedra by the majority of modern anthro- 
pologists, one in fact more in accord with all that our 
own experience and the facts of history teach us of 
the effects of the contact of peoples and the spread of 
knowledge. 

Such a method of stating the argument necessarily 
involves a considerable amount of repetition of statements 
and phrases, which is apt to irritate the reader and offend 
his sense of literary style. In extenuation of this ad- 
mitted defect it must be remembered that the brochure 
was intended as a protest against the accusation of 
artificiality and improbability so often launched against 
the explanation suggested here : the cumulative effect of 
corroboration was deliberately aimed at, by showing that 
many investigators employing the most varied kinds of 
data had independently arrived at identical conclusions 
and often expressed them in similar phrases. 

Only a very small fraction of the evidence is set forth 
in the present work. Much of the most illuminating 
information has only come to the author's knowledge 
since this memoir was in the press ; and a vast amount of 
the data, especially that relating to Europe, India and 
China, is too intimately intertwined with the effects of 
other cultures to be discussed and dissociated from them 
in so limited a space as this. 

Nor has any attempt been made to discuss the times 
of the journeys, the duration of the intercourse, or the 



PREFACE. Vll 

details of the goings and the comings of the ancient 
mariners who distributed so curious an assortment of 
varied cargoes to the coast-lines of the whole world 
literally " from China to Peru." They exerted an influence 
upon the history of civilization and achieved marvels of 
maritime daring that must be reckoned of greater account, 
as they were so many ages earlier, than those of the more 
notorious mediaeval European adventurers and buccaneers 
who, impelled by similar motives, raided the Spanish 
Main and the East Indies. 

As the pages show, this book is reprinted from volume 
59, part 2, of the " Memoirs and Proceedings of the 
Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society," session 
1914-15 ; and I am indebted to the Council of that body 
for their kind permission to re-issue it in its present form. 

G. ELLIOT SMITH. 



THE UNIVERSITY, 

MANCHESTER, 

July, 79/5. 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. 



PAGE 

Map i. A rough chart of the geographical distribution 

of certain customs, practices and traditions 2 

Map 2. An attempt to represent roughly the areas 
more directly affected by the " heliolithic " 
culture-complex, with arrows to indicate 
the hypothetical routes taken in the mi- 
gration of the culture-bearers who were 
responsible for its diffusion - 14 



Manchester Memoirs, Voi- iix 1 . (rot 5), Ntf. 



X. On the Significance of the Geographical Distri- 
bution of the Practice of Mummification. A 
Study of the Migrations of Peoples and the 
Spread of certain Customs and Beliefs. 

By Professor G. ELLIOT SMITH, M.A., M.D., F.R.S. 

( Ruad February 2jrd, 1915. Received for publication April 6t/i, 



In entering upon the discussion of the geographical 
distribution of the practice of mummification I am con- 
cerned not so much with the origin and technical pro- 
cedures of this remarkable custom. This aspect of the 
problem I have already considered in a series of memoirs 
(75 to Sp 1 ). I have chosen mummification rather as the 
mdst peculiar, and therefore the most distinctive and 
obtrusive, element of a very intimately interwoven series 
of strange customs, which became fortuitously linked one 
with the other to form a definite culture-complex nearly 
thirty centuries ago, and spread along the coastlines of a 
great part of the world, stirring into new and distinctive 
activity the sluggish uncultured peoples which in turn 
were subjected to this exotic leaven. 

If one looks into the journals of anthropology and 
ethnology, there will be found amongst the vast collections. 
of information relating to man's activities a most sugges- 
tive series of facts concerning the migrations of past ages 
and the. spread of peculiar customs and beliefs. 

If a map of the world is taken and one plots out 
(Map /.) the geographical distribution of such remarkable 

1 These figures refer to the bibliography at the end. 
July Jth, 1915. 



ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 




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Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 10. 3 

customs as the building of megalithic monuments (see 
for example Lane Fox's [Pitt Rivers'] map, 20), the 
worship of the sun and the serpent (51 ; 103), the custom 
of piercing the ears (see Park Harrison, 29), tattooing (see 
Miss Buckland, 10), the practice of circumcision, the 
curious custom known as couvade, the practice of mas- 
sage, the complex story of the creation, the deluge, the 
petrifaction of human beings, the divine origin of kings 
and a chosen people sprung from an incestuous union 
(W. J. Perry), the use of the swastika-symbol (see Wilson's 
map, 105), the practice of cranial deformation, to mention 
only a few of the many that might be enumerated, it will 
be found that in most respects the areas in which this 
extraordinary assortment of bizarre customs and beliefs 
is found coincide one with the other. In some of the 
series gaps occur, which probably are more often due to 
lack of information on our part than to real absence of 
the practice ; in other places one or other of the elements 
of this complex culture-mixture has overflowed the com- 
mon channel and broken into new territory. But con- 
sidered in conjunction these data enable us definitely and 
precisely to map out the route taken by this peculiarly 
distinctive group of eccentricities of the human mind. If 
each of them is considered alone there are many breaks 
in the chain and many uncertainties as to the precise 
course : but when taken together all of these gaps are 
bridged. Moreover, in most areas there are traditions 
of culture-heroes, who brought in some or all of these 
customs at one and the same time and also introduced a 
knowledge of agriculture and weaving. 

So far as I am aware no one hitherto has called atten- 
tion to the fact that the practice of mummification has 
a geographical distribution exactly corresponding to the 
area occupied by the curious assortment of other practices 



4 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

just enumerated. Not only so, but in addition it is abund- 
antly clear that the coincidence is not merely accidental. 
It is due to the fact that in most regions the people who 
introduced the habit of megalithic building and sun- 
worship (a combination for which it is convenient to use 
Professor Brockwell's distinctive term "heliolithic cul- 
ture") also brought with them the practice of mummifica- 
tion at the same time. 

The custom of embalming the dead is in fact an 
integral part of the "heliolithic culture," and perhaps, as 
I shall endeavour to demonstrate, its most important 
component. For this practice and the beliefs which 
grew up in association with it were responsible for the 
development of some of the chief elements of this culture- 
complex, and incidentally of the bond of union with 
other factors not so intimately connected, in the genetic 
sense, with it. 

Before plunging into the discussion of the evidence 
provided by the practice of mummification, it will be 
useful to consider for a moment the geographical distribu- 
tion of the other components of the "heliolithic culture." 
I need not say much about megalithic monuments, for I 
have already considered their significance elsewhere (90 
to 96) ; but I should like once more specifically to call 
the attention of those who are obsessed by theories of 
the independent evolution of such monuments, and who 
scoff at Fergusson (l7)> to the memoirs of Lane Fox (20) 
and Meadows Taylor (100). The latter emphasises in a 
striking manner the remarkable identity of structure, not 
only as concerns the variety and the general conception 
of such monuments, but also as regards trivial and appar- 
ently unessential details. With reference to "the opinion 
of many," which has " been advanced as an hypothesis, 
that the common instincts of humanity have suggested 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 10. 5 

common methods of sepulture," he justly remarks, " I own 
this kind of vague generalisation does not satisfy me, in 
the face of such exact points of similitude .... Such 
can hardly have been the result of accident, or any 
common human instinct" (p. 173). 

But it is not merely the identity of structure and the 
geographical distribution (in most cases along continuous 
coast-lines or related islands) that proves the common 
origin of megalithic monuments. It is further strongly 
corroborated by a remarkable series of beliefs, traditions 
and practices, many of them quite meaningless and unin- 
telligible to us, which are associated with such structures 
wherever they are found) Stories of dwarfs and giants 
(13), the belief in the indwelling of gods or great men in 
the stones, the use of these structures in a particular 
manner for certain special councils (20, pp. 64 and 65), 
and the curious, and, to us, meaningless, practice of hang- 
ing rags on trees in association with such monuments 
(20, pp. 63 and 64). fin reference to .the last of these 
associated practices, Lane Fox remarks, " it is impossible 
to believe that so singular a custom as this could have 
arisen independently in all these countries." 

In an important article on " Facts suggestive of pre- 
historic intercourse between East and West" (Journ. 
Anthr. Inst., Vol. 14, 1884, p. 227), Miss Buckland calls 
attention to a remarkable series of identities of customs 
and beliefs, and amongst them certain legends concerning 
the petrification of dance maidens associated with stone 
circles as far apart as Cornwall and Peru. 

Taking all of these facts into consideration, it is to 
me altogether inconceivable how any serious enquirer 
who familiarises himself with the evidence can honestly 
refuse to admit that the case for the spread of the inspira- 
tion to erect megalithic monuments from one centre has 



6 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

been proved by an overwhelming mass of precise and 
irrefutable data. But this evidence does not stand alone. 
It is linked with scores of other peculiar customs and 
beliefs, the testimony of each of which, however imperfect 
and unconvincing some scholars may consider it indi- 
vidually, strengthens the whole case by cumulation ; and 
when due consideration is given to the enormous com- 
plexity and artificiality of the cultural structure com- 
pounded of such fantastic elements, these are bound to 
compel assent to their significance, as soon as the present 
generation of ethnologists can learn to forget the meaning- 
less fetish to which at present it bends the knee. 

But suppose, for the sake of argument, we shut our 
ears to the voice of common sense, and allow ourselves to 
be hypnotised into the belief that some complex and 
highly specialised instinct (i.e. precisely the type of in- 
stinct which real psychologists not the ethnological 
variety deny to mankind) impelled groups of men 
.scattered as far apart as Ireland, India and Peru inde- 
pendently the one of the other to build mausolea of the 
same type, to acquire similar beliefs regarding the petri- 
faction of human beings, and many other extraordinary 
things connected with such monuments, how is this 
"psychological explanation" going to help us to explain 
why the wives of the builders of these monuments, 
whether in Africa, Asia or America, should have their 
chins pricked and rubbed with charcoal, or why they 
should circumcise their boys, or why they should have a 
tradition of the deluge ? Does any theory of evolution 
help in explaining these associations? They are clearly 
fortuitous associations of customs and beliefs, which have 
no inherent relationship one to the other. They became 
^connected purely by chance in one definite locality, and 
}the fact that such incongruous customs reappear in asso- 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 10. 7 

ciation in distant parts of the globe is proof of the most 
positive kind that the wanderings of peoples must have 
brought this peculiar combination of freakish practices 
from the centre where chance linked them together.^ 

Because it was the fashion among a 5 particular group 
of megalith-builders to tattoo the chins of their women- 
kind, the wanderers who carried abroad the one custom 
also took the other: but there is no genetic or inherent 
connection between megalith-building and chin-tattooing. 

Such evidence is infinitely stronger and more con- 
vincing than that afforded by one custom considered by 
itself, because in the former case we are dealing with an 
association which is definitely and obviously due to pure 
chance, such as the so-called psychological method, how- 
ever casuistical, is impotent to explain. 
\^v^But the study of such a custom as tattooing, even 
when considered alone, affords evidence that ought to 
convince most reasonable people of the impossibility of it 
having independently arisen in different, widely scattered, 
localities. > The data have been carefully collected and 
discussed with clear insight and common sense by Miss 
Buckland (10) in an admirable memoir, which I should 
like to commend to all who still hold to the meaningless 
dogma "of the similarity of the working of the human 
mind " as an explanation of the identity of customs. 
Tattooing is practised throughout the great " heliolithic " 
track. [Striking as Miss Buckland's map erf distribution 
is as a demonstration of this, if completed in the light of 
our present information, it would be even more convincing, 
for she has omitted Libya, which so far as we know at 
present may possibly have been the centre of origin of 
the^curious practice.] 

Tattooing of the chin in women is practised in 
localities as far apart as Egypt, India, Japan, New 



8 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

Guinea, New Zealand, Easter Island and North and 
South America. 

Miss Buckland rightly draws the conclusion that "the 
wide distribution of this peculiar custom is of considerable 
significance, especially as it follows so nearly in the line" 
which she had "indicated in two previous papers (8 and 
9) as suggestive of a pre-historic intercourse between the 
two hemispheres. . . . When we find in India, Japan, 
Egypt, New Guinea, New Zealand, Alaska, Greenland 
and America, the custom of tattooing carried out in pre- 
cisely the same manner and for the same ends, and when 
in addition to this we find a similarity in other ornaments, 
in weapons, in games, in modes of burial, and many other 
customs, we think it may fairly be assumed that they all 
derived these customs from a common source, or that at 
some unknown period, some intercourse existed " (p. 326). 
J In the first of her memoirs .'8) Miss Buckland calls 
attention to " the curious connection between early wor- 
ship of the serpent and a knowledge of metals," which is 
of peculiar interest in this discussion, because the Proto- 
Egyptians, who were serpent-worshippers (see Sethe, 74), 
had a knowledge of metals at a period when, so far as our 
present knowledge goes, no other people had yet acquired 
it. Referring to the ancient Indian Indra, the Chaldean 
Ea and the Mexican Quetzacoatl, among other gods, Miss 
Buckland remarks : " The deities, kings and heroes who 
are symbolised by the serpent are commonly described as 
the pioneers of civilisation and the instructors of mankind 
in the arts of agriculture and mining." 

Further, in an interesting article en " Stimulants in 
Use among Savages and among the Ancients" (9), she 
tells us that "among aboriginal races in a line across the 
Pacific, from Formosa on the West to Peru and Bolivia on 
the East, a peculiar, and what would appear to civilised 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 10. 9 

races a disgusting mode of preparing fermented drinks, 
prevails, the women being in all cases the chief manu- 
facturers ; the material employed varying according to 
the state of agriculture in the different localities, but the 
mode of preparation remaining virtually the same" (9, 

P- 213)- 

If space permitted I should have liked to make 
extensive quotations from Park Harrison's most conclusive 
independent demonstration of the spread of culture along 
the same' great route, at which he arrived from the study 
of the geographical distribution of the peculiar custom of 
artificially distending the lobe of the ear (29). This 
practice was not infrequent in Egypt (79) in the times of 
the new Empire, a fact which Harrison seems to have over- 
looked : but he records it amongst the Greeks, Hebrews, 
Etruscans, Persians, in Bceotia, Zanzibar, Natal, Southern 
India, Ceylon, Assam, Aracan, Burma, Laos, Nicobar 
Islands, Nias, Borneo, China, Solomon Islands, Admiralty 
Islands, New Hebrides, New Caledonia, Pelew Islands, 
Navigators Island, Fiji, 'Friendly Islands, Penrhyn, Society 
Islands, Easter Island, Peru, Palenque, Mexico, Brazil 
and Paraguay. This is an excellent and remarkably 
complete [if he had used the data now available it might 
have been made even more complete] mapping out of the 
great " heliolithic " track. > 

The identity of geographical distribution is no mere 
fortuitous coincidence. 

It is of peculiar interest that Harrison is able to 
demonstrate a linked association between this custom and 
sun-worship in most of the localities enumerated. In the 
figures illustrating his memoir other obvious associations 
can be detected intimately binding it by manifold threads 
into the very texture of the "heliolithic culture." If to 
this we add the fact that in many localities the design 



io ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

tattooed on the skin was the sun, we further strengthen 
the woof of the closely woven fabric that is gradually 
taking shape. 

To these forty-year-old demonstrations let me add 
Wilson's interesting recent monograph on the swastika 
(105), which independently tells the same story and 
blazens the same great track around the world (see his 
map). He further calls attention to the close geographical 
association between the distribution of the swastika and 
the spindle-whorl. By attributing the introduction of 
weaving and the swastika into most localities where they 
occur by the same culture-heroes he thereby adds the 
swastika to the " heliolithic " outfit, for weaving already 
belongs to it. 

To these practices one might add a large series of 
others of a character no less remarkable, such, for example, 
as circumcision, the practice of massage (57,67 and II), 
the curious custom known as couvade, all of which are 
distributed along the great "heliolithic" pathway and 
belong to the great culture-complex which travelled 
by it. 

But there are several interesting bits of corroborative 
evidence that I cannot refrain from mentioning. 

One of the most carefully-investigated bonds of 
cultural connection between the Eastern Mediterranean 
in Phoenician times and pre-Columbian America (Tehuan- 
tepec) has recently been put on record by Zelia Nuttall in 
her memoir on " a curious survival in Mexico of the use 
of the Purpura shell-fish for dyeing " (50). After a very 
thorough and critical analysis of all the facts of this truly 
remarkable case of transmission of an extraordinary cus- 
tom, Mrs. Nuttall justly concludes that " it seems almost 
easier to believe that certain elements of an ancient 
European culture were at one time, and perhaps once only, 



M and tester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 10. n 

actually transmitted by the traditional small band of ... 
Mediterranean seafarers, than to explain how, under totally 
different conditions of race and climate, the identical 
ideas and customs should have arisen" (pp. 383 and 384). 
Ncr does she leave us in any doubt as to "the route taken 
by the carriers of this practice. Found in association 
with it, both in the Old and the New World, was the use 
of conch-shell trumpets and pearls. The antiquity of 
these usages is proved by their representation in pre- 
Columbian pictures or, in the case of the pearls, the 
finding of actual specimens in graves. 

In Phoenician, Greek, and later times these shell- 
trumpets were extensively used in the Mediterranean : 
" European travellers have found them in actual use in 
East India, Japan and, by the Alfurs, in Ceram, the 
Papuans of New Guinea, as well as in the South Sea 
islands as far as New Zealand," and in many places in 
America (p. 378). " In the Old and the New .World alike, 
are found, in the same close association, (i) the purple 
industry and skill in weaving ; (2) the use of pearls and 
conch-shell trumpets ; (3) the mining, working and traf- 
ficking in copper, silver and gold ; (4) the tetrarchial 
form of government ; (5) the conception of * Four 
Elements'; (6) the cyclical form of calendar. Those J 
scholars who assert that all of the foregoing must have ^ 
been developed independently will ever be confronted by 
the persistent and unassailable fact that, throughout 
America, the aborigines unanimously disclaim all share 
in their production and assign their introduction to 
strangers of superior- culture from distant and unknown 
parts" (p. 383). 

Many other equally definite proofs might be cited of 
the transmission of customs from the Old to the New 
World, of which the instance reported by Tylor (102) is 



12 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

the classical example 2 ; but I know of no other which has 
been so critically studied and so fully recorded as Mrs. 
Nuttall's case. 

But the difficulty may be raised as in fact invariably 
happens when these subjects come up for discussion as 
to the means of transmission. Rivers has explained what 
does actually happen in the contact of peoples (68) and 
how a small group of wanderers bringing the elements of 
a higher culture can exert a profound and far-reaching 
influence upon a large uncultured population (64 to 70). 

Lane-Fox's [Pitt Rivers'] memoir " on Early Modes 
of Navigation " (21) not only affords in itself an admirable 
summary of the definite evidence for the spread of culture; 
but is also doubly valuable to us, because incidentally it 
illustrates also the actual means by which the migrations 
of the culture-bearers took place. The survival into modern 
times, upon the Hooghly and other Indian rivers, of boats 
provided with the fantastic steering arrangement used 
by the Ancient Egyptians 2OOO years B.C., is in itself a 
proof of ancient Egyptian influence in India ; and the 
contemporary practice of representing eyes upon the bow 
of the ship enables us to demonstrate a still wider exten- 
sion of that influence, for in modern times that custom 
has been recorded as far apart as Malta, India, China, 
Oceania and the North-West American coast. 

But there is no difficulty about the question of the 

2 Tylor (" On the Game of Patolli, ">'"'" Anthrop. fttst., Vol. VIII., 
1879, P- I2 &) c i tes another certain case of borrowing on the part of pre- 
Columbian America from Asia. " Lot-backgammon as represented by tab, 
pachisi, etc., ranges in the Old World from Egypt across Southern Asia to 
Birma. As the patolli of the Mexicans is a variety of lot-backgammon most 
nearly approaching the HindtL/OCfAttf, and perhaps like it passing into the 
stage of dice-backgammon, its presence seems to prove that it had made its 
way across from Asia. At any rate, it may be reckoned among elements of 
Asiatic culture traceable in the old Mexican civilization, the high develop- 
ment of which . . . seems to be in large measure due to Asiatic influence." 



Manchester Memoirs, VoL lix. (1915), No. 10. 13 

transmission of such customs. Most scholars who have 
mastered the early history of some particular area, in 
many cases those who most resolutely deny even the 
possibility of the wider spread of culture, frankly admit 
because it would stultify their own localised researches to 
deny it the intercourse of the particular people in which 
they are interested and its neighbours. Merely by using 
these links, forged by the reluctant hands of hostile wit- 
nesses, it is possible to construct the whole chain needed 
for such migrations as I postulate (see Map II.) 

No one who reads the evidence collected by such 
writers as Ellis (15), de Quatrefages (60) and Percy Smith 
(p8; 8 can doubt the fact of the extensive prehistoric mi- 
grations throughout the Pacific Ocean along definitely 
known routes. Even Joyce (whose otherwise excellent 
summaries of the facts relating to American archaeology 
have been emasculated by his refusal to admit the influence 
of the Old World upon American culture) states that 
migrations from India extended to Indonesia (and Mada- 
gascar) and all the islands of the Pacific ; and even that 
''it is likely that the coast of America was reached" (6l, 
p. U9). 4 

There is no doubt as to the reality of the close 
maritime intercourse between the Persian Gulf and India 
from the eighth century B.C. (13 ; 14 ; 51 ; and 101) ; and of 
course it is a historical fact that the Mediterranean littoral 
and Egypt had been in intimate connexion with Baby- 
lonia for some centuries before, and especially after, that 
time. 

In the face of this overwhelming mass of definite 

3 See also 2 ; 3 ; 7 ; 8 ; 9 ; IO ; 16 ; 20 ; 21 ; 24 ; 29 ; 30 ; 38 ; 48 ; 

49 ; 50; 5 1 ; 6l ; 73 ; 103 ; and 105. 

4 For proof that it was reached see 3 ; 8 ; 9 ; IO ; 2O ; 21 ; 38 ; 49 ; 

50 ; 51 ; 73 ; 102 ; 103 ; and 105. 



14 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 




Manchester Memoirs^ Vol. lix. (1915), No. IO. 15 

evidence of the reality not only of the spread of culture 
and its carriers, but also of the ways and the means by 
which it travelled, it will naturally be asked how it has 
come to pass that there is even the shadow of a doubt as 
to the migrations which distributed this " heliolithic" cul- 
ture-complex so widely in the world. It cannot be ex- 
plained by lack of knowledge, for most of the facts that I 
have enumerated are taken bodily from the anthropo- 
logical journals of forty or more years ago. 

The explanation is to be found, I believe, in a curious 
psychological process incidental to the intensive study of 
an intricate problem. As knowledge increased and various 
scholars attempted to define the means by (and the time 
at) which the contacts of various peoples took place, diffi- 
culties were revealed which, though really trivial, were 
magnified into insuperable obstacles. All of these real 
difficulties were created by mistaken ideas of the relative 
chronology of the appearance of civilisation in various 
centres, and especially by the failure to realise that 
useful arts were often lost. For example, if on a certain 
mainland A two practices, a and b one of them, a, a 
useful practice, say the making of pottery ; the other, b, 
a useless custom, say the preservation of the corpse 
were developed, and a was at least as old, or preferably 
definitely older than , it seemed altogether inconceivable 
to the ethnologist if an island B was influenced by the 
culture of the mainland y?,at some time after the practices 
a and b were in vogue, that it might, under any conceiv- 
able circumstances, fail to preserve the useful art a, even 
though it might allow the utterly useless practice b to 
lapse. Therefore it was argued that, if the later inhabitants 
of B mummified their dead, but did not make pottery, 
this was clear evidence that they could not have come 
under the influence of A. 



1 6 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

But the whole of the formidable series of obstacles 
raised by this kind of argument has been entirely swept 
away by Dr. Rivers, who has demonstrated how often 
it has happened that a population has completely lost 
some useful art which it once had, and even more often 
clung to some useless practice (65). 

The remarkable feature of the present state of the 
discussion is that, in spite of Rivers' complete demolition 
of these difficulties (65), most ethnologists do not seem to 
realise that there is now a free scope for taking a clear 
and common-sense view of the truth, unhindered by any 
obstructions. It is characteristic of the history of scientific, 
no less than of theological argument, that the immediate 
effect of the destruction of the foundations of cherished 
beliefs is to make their more fanatical votaries shout 
their creed all the louder and more dogmatically, and 
hurl anathemas at those who dissent. 

This is the only explanation I can offer of the 
remarkable presidential address delivered by Fewkes to 
the Anthropological Society of Washington in 1912 (18), 
Keane's incoherent recklessness 5 (41, pp. 140, 218, 219, 
and 367 to 370), and the amazing criticisms which during 
the last four years 1 ( have had annually to meet. There 
is no attempt at argument, but mere dogmatic and often 
irrelevant assertions. The constant appeal to the mean- 
ingless phrase "the similarity of the working of the 

5 Dr. Fewkes' discourse is essentially a farrago of meaningless verbiage. 
Later on in this communication I shall give a characteristic sample of the 
late Professor Keane's dialectic ; but the whole of the passages referred to 
should be read by anyone who is inclined to cavil at my strictures upon such 
expositions of modern ethnological doctrine. The obvious course for any 
serious investigator to pursue is to ignore such superficial and illogical pre- 
tensions : but the ethnological literature of this country and America is so 
permeated with ideas such as Fewkes and Keane express, that it has become 
necessary bluntly to expose the utter hollowness of their case. 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 1O. 17 

human mind" 6 (18), as though it were a magical incan- 
tation against logical induction, and harping on the so- 
called "psychological argument" (41), which is directly 
opposed to the teaching of psychology, are the only 
excuses one can obtain from the " orthodox " ethnologist 
for this obstinate refusal to face the issue. Of course it is 
a historical fact that the discussions of the theory of 
evolution inclined ethnologists during the last century 
the more readily to accept the laisser faire attitude, and 
put an end to all their difficulties by the pretence that 
most cultures developed independently in situ. It is all 
the more surprising that Huxley took some small part in 
encouraging this lapse into superficiality and abuse of 
the evolution conception, when it is recalled that, as Sir 
Michael Foster tells us, the then President of the Ethno- 
logical Society " made himself felt in many ways, not the 
least by the severity with which he repressed the pre- 
tensions of shallow persons who, taking advantage of the 
glamour of the Darwinian doctrine, talked nonsense in 
the name of anthropological science " (" Life and Letters 
of Thomas Henry Huxley," Vol. I., p. 263). 

It is a singular commentary on the attitude of the 
" orthodox " school of ethnologists that, when pressed to 
accept the obvious teaching of ethnological evidence, they 

6 For if any sense whatever is to be attached to this phrase it implies 
that man is endowed with instincts of a much more complex and highly 
specialised kind than any insect or bird instincts moreover which impel a 
group of men to perform at the same epoch a very large series of peculiarly 
complex, meaningless and fantastic acts that have no possible relationship 
to the "struggle for existence," which is supposed to be responsible for the 
fashioning of instincts. 

But William McDougall tells us that the distinctive feature of human 
instincts is that they are of "the most highly general type." "They 
merely provide a basis for vaguely directed activities in response to vaguely 
discriminated impressions from large classes of objects." (" Psychology, 
the Study of Behaviour," p. 171.) There is nothing vague about the extra- 
ordinary repertoire of the " heliolithic " cult ! 



1 8 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

should desert the strong intrenchments which the diffi- 
culties of full and adequate explanation have afforded 
them in the past, and take refuge behind the straw barri- 
cades of imaginary psychological and biological analogies, 
which they have hastily constructed for their own purposes, 
and in flagrant defiance of all that the psychologist under- 
stands by the phrase "working of the human mind," if 
perchance he is ever driven to employ this expression, or 
the meaning attached by the biologist to " evolution." 

It is not sufficient proof of my thesis, however, merely 
to expose the hollowness of the pretensions of one's 
opponents, nor even to show the identity of geographical 
distribution and the linking up of customs to form the 
" heliolithic " culture-complex. Many writers have dimly 
realised that some such spread of culture took place, but 
by misunderstanding the nature of the factors that came 
into play or the chronology of the movements they were 
discussing (see especially Macmillan Brown's [7] and 
Enoch's [16] books, to mention the latest, but by no means 
the worst offenders), have brought discredit upon the 
thesis I am endeavouring to demonstrate. 

Another danger has arisen out of the revulsion against 
Bastian's old idea of independent evolution by his fellow- 
countrymen Frobenius, Graebner, Ankermann, Foy and 
others, with the co-operation of the Austrian philologist, 
Schmidt, and the Swiss ethnologist, Montandon (who has 
summarised the views of the new school in the first part of 
the new journal, Archives suisses cTAnthropologie generate, 
May, 1914, p. 113); for they have rushed to the other 
extreme, and, relying mainly upon objects of " material 
culture," have put forward a method of analysis and 
postulated a series of migrations for which the evidence 
is very doubtful. Rivers (64) has pointed out the un- 
reliability of such inferences when unchecked by the con- 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 10. 19 

sideration of elements of culture which are not so easily 
bartered or borrowed as bows and spears. He has in- 
sisted upon the fundamental importance of the study of 
social organisation as supplying the most stable and trust- 
worthy data for the analysis of a culture-complex and an 
index of racial admixture. The study of such a practice 
as mummification, the influence of which is deep-rooted in 
the innermost beliefs of the people who resort to it, affords 
data almost as reliable as Rivers' method ; for the subse- 
quent account will make it abundantly clear that the 
practice of embalming leaves its impress upon the burial 
customs of a people long ages after other methods of 
disposal of their dead have been adopted. 

I have been led into this digression by attempting to 
make it clear that the mere demonstration of the identity 
of geographical distribution and the linking together of a 
series of cultural elements by no means represents the 
solution of the main problem. 

What has still to be elucidated is the manner and the 
place in which the complex fabric of the " heliolithic " 
culture was woven, the precise epoch in which it began to 
be spread abroad and the identity of its carriers, the in- 
fluences to which it was subjected on the way, and the 
additions, subtractions and modifications which it under- 
went as the result v 

Although I have now collected many of the data for 
the elucidation of these points, the limited space at my 
disposal compels me to defer for the present the con- 
sideration of the most interesting aspect of the whole 
problem, the identity of the early mariners who were the 
distributors of so strange a cargo. It was this aspect of 
the question which first led me into the controversy ; but 
I shall be able to deal with it more conveniently when 
the ethnological case has been stated. The enormous . 



20 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

bulk of the data that have accumulated compels me to 
omit a large mass of corroborative evidence of an ethno- 
logical nature ; but no doubt there will be many oppor- 
tunities in the near future for using up this reserve of 
ammunition. 

Before setting out for the meeting of the British 
Association in Australia last year I submitted the follow- 
ing abstract of a communication (96) to be made to the 
Section of Anthropology : 

" After dealing with the evidence from the resem- 
blances in the physical characteristics of widely separated 
populations such, for instance, as certain of the ancient 
- inhabitants of Western Asia on the one hand, and certain 
Polynesians on the other suggesting far-reaching pre- 
historic migrations, the distribution of certain peculiarly 
distinctive practices, such as mummification and the 
building of megalithic monuments, is made use of to con- 
firm the reality of such wanderings of peoples. 

" I have already (at the Portsmouth, Dundee, and 
Birmingham meetings) dealt with the problem as it 
affects the Mediterranean littoral and Western Europe. 
On the present occasion I propose to direct attention 
mainly to the question of the spread of culture from the 
centres of the ancient civilisations along the Southern 
Asiatic coast and from there out into the Pacific. From 
the examination of the evidence supplied by megalithic 
monuments and distinctive burial customs, studied in the 
light of the historical information relating to the influence 
exerted by Arabia and India in the Far East, one can 
argue by analogy as to the nature of migrations in the 
even more remote past to explain the distribution of the 
earliest peoples dwelling on the shores of the Pacific. 

-" Practices such as mummification and megalith- 
building present so many peculiar and distinctive features 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 1O. 21 

that no hypothesis of independent evolution can seriously 
be entertained in explanation of their geographical dis- 
tribution. They must be regarded as evidence of the 
diffusion of information, and the migrations of bearers of 
it, from somewhere in the neighbourhood of the Eastern 
Mediterranean, step by step out into Polynesia, and even 
perhaps beyond the Pacific to the American littoral/' 

At that time it was my intention further to develop 
the arguments from megalithic monuments which I had 
laid before the Association at the three preceding meet- 
ings and elsewhere (90 ; pi ; 92 ; 93 ; and especially 94) ; 
and endeavour to prove that the structure and the geo- 
graphical distribution of these curious memorials pointed 
to the spread of a distinctive type of culture along the 
Southern Asiatic littoral, through Indonesia and Oceania 
to the American Continent. The geographical distri- 
bution of the practice of mummification was to have been 
used merely as a means of corroboration of what I then 
imagined to be the more complete megalithic record, and 
of emphasizing the fact that Egypt had played some part 
at least in originating these curiously linked customs. 

But when I examined the mummy from Torres 
Straits in the Macleay Museum (University of Sydney), 
and studied the literature relating to the methods em- 
ployed by the embalmers in that region (i ; 19 ; 25 ; and 
27), I was convinced, from my knowledge of the technical 
details used in mummification in ancient Egypt (see 
especially 78 ; 86 and 87), that these Papuan mummies 
supplied us with the most positive demonstration of the 
Egyptian origin of the methods employed. Moreover, 
as they revealed a series of very curious procedures, such 
as were not invented in Egypt until the time of the New 
Empire, and some of them not until the XXIst Dynasty, 
it was evident that the cultural wave which carried the 



22 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

knowledge of these things to the Torres Straits could not 
have started on its long course from Egypt before the 
ninth century B.C., at the earliest. 

The incision for eviscerating the body was made in 
the flank, right or left, or in the perineum (19 ; 25) the 
two sites selected for making the embalming incision 
in Egypt (78) ; the flank incision was made in the 
precise situation (between costal margin and iliac crest) 
which was distinctive of XX 1st and XXIInd Dynasty 
methods in Egypt (86) ; and the wound was stitched up 
in accordance with the method employed in the case of 
the cheaper kinds of embalming at that period (78). 
When the flank incision was not employed an opening 
was made in the perineum, as was done in Egypt the 
second method mentioned by Herodotus in the case of 
less wealthy people (56, p. 46). 

The viscera, after removal, were thrown into the sea, 
as, according to Porphyry and Plutarch, it was the practice 
in Egypt at one time (56, pp. 57 and 58) to cast them into 
the Nile. 

The body was painted with a mixture containing red- 
ochre, the scalp was painted black, and artificial eyes were 
inserted. These procedures were first adopted (in their 
entirety) in Egypt during the XX 1st Dynasty, although 
the experiments leading up to the adoption of these 
methods began in the XlXth. 

But most remarkable of all, the curiously inexplicable 
Egyptian procedure for removing the brain, which in 
Egypt was not attempted until the XVIIIth Dynasty 
i.e.y until its embalmers had had seventeen centuries 
experience of their remarkable craft (78) was also 
followed by the savages of the Torres Straits (25 ; 27) ! 

Surely it is inconceivable that such people could have 
originated the idea or devised the means for practising an 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 10. 23 

operation so devoid of meaning and so technically difficult 
as this ! The interest of their technique is that the 
Torres Straits operators followed the method originally 
employed in Egypt (in the case of the mummy of the 
Pharaoh Ahmes I. [86, p. 16]), which is one requiring 
considerable skill and dexterity, and not the simpler 
operation through the nostrils which was devised later (78). 

The Darnley Islanders also made a circular incision 
through the skin of each finger and toe, and having 
scraped off the epidermis from the rest of the body, they 
carefully peeled off these thimbles of skin, and presented 
them to the deceased's widow (25 ; 27). 

This practice is peculiarly interesting as an illustration 
of the adoption of an ancient Egyptian custom in complete 
ignorance of the. purpose it was intended to serve. The 
ancient Egyptian embalmers (and, again, those of the 
XXIst Dynasty) made similar circular incisions around 
fingers and toes, and also scraped off the rest of the 
epidermis : but the aim of this strange procedure was to 
prevent the general epidermis, as it was shed (which 
occurred when the body was steeped for weeks in the 
preservative brine bath), from carrying the finger- and 
toe-nails with it (78)- A thimble of skin was left on each 
finger and toe to keep the nail in situ ; and to make it 
doubly secure, it was tied on with string (78) or fixed 
with a ring of gold or a silver glove (84). 

In the Torres Straits method of embalming the brine 
bath was not used ; so the scraping off of the epidermis 
was wholly unnecessary. In addition, after following 
precisely the preliminary steps of this aimless proceeding, 
by deliberately and intentionally removing the skiri- 
thimbles and nails they defeated the very objects which 
the Egyptians had in view when they invented this 
operation ! 



24 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

An elaborate technical operation such as this which 

serves no useful purpose and is wholly misunderstood by 

its practitioners cannot have been invented by them. It 

is another certain proof of the Egyptian origin of the 

voractice. 

There is another feature of these Papuan mummies 
which may or may not be explicable as the adoption of 
Egyptian practices put to a modified, if not a wholly 
different, use. Among the new methods introduced in 
Egypt in the XX 1st Dynasty was a curious device for 
restoring to the mummy something of the fulness of form 
and outline it had lost during the process of preservation. 
Through various incisions (which incidentally no doubt 
allowed the liquid products of decomposition to escape) 
foreign materials were packed under -the skin of the 
mummy (78; 87). These incisions were made between 
the toes, sometimes at the knees, in the region of the 
shoulders, and sometimes in other situations (78). In 
the Papuan method of mummification "cuts were made 
on the knee-caps and between the fingers and toes ; then 
holes were pierced in the cuts with an arrow so as to 
allow the liquids to drip from them" (Hamlyn-Harris, 
27, P- 3)- In one of the mummies in the Brisbane museum 
there seem to be incisions also in the shoulders. The 
situation of these openings suggests the view that the 
idea of making them may (and I do not wish to put it 
any more definitely) have been suggested by the 
Egyptian XX 1st Dynastic practice. For, although the 
incisions were made, in the latter case, for the purpose of 
packing the limbs, incidentally they served for drainage 
purposes. 

But it was not only the mere method of embalming, 
convincing and definite as it is, that establishes the deri- 
vation of the Papuan from the Egyptian procedure ; but 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 1O. 25 

also all the other funerary practices, and the beliefs 
associated with them, that help to clinch the proof. The 
special treatment of the head, the use of masks, the 
making of stone idols, these and scores of other curious 
customs (which have been described in detail in Haddon's 
and Myers' admirable account [25]) might be cited. 

When I called the attention of the Anthropological 
Section to these facts and my interpretation of them at 
the meeting of the British Association in Melbourne, 
Professor J. L. Myres opened the discussion by adopting 
a line of argument which, even after four years' experience 
of controversies of the megalith-problem, utterly amazed 
me. " What more natural than that people should want 
to preserve their dead ? Or that in doing so they should 
remove the more putrescible parts ? Would not the flank 
be the natural place to choose for the purpose ? Is it not 
a common practice for people to paint their dead with 
red-ochre?" It is difficult to believe that such questions 
were meant to be taken seriously. The claim that it is 
quite a natural thing on the death of a near relative for 
the survivors instinctively to remove his viscera, dry the 
corpse over a fire, scrape off his epidermis, remove his 
brain through a hole in the back of his neck, and then 
paint the corpse red is a sample of casuistry not unworthy 
of a mediaeval theologian. Yet this is the gratuitous 
claim made at a scientific meeting! If Professor Myres 
had known anything of the history of Anatomy he would 
have realized that the problem of preserving the body 
was one of extreme difficulty which for long ages had 
exercised the most civilized peoples, not only in antiquity, 
but also in modern times. In Egypt, where the natural 
conditions favouring the successful issue of attempts to 
preserve the body were largely responsible for the possi- 
bility of such embalming, it took more than seventeen 



26 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

centuries of constant practice and experimentation to 
reach the stage and to acquire the methods exemplified 
in the Torres Straits mummies. In Egypt also a curious 
combination of natural circumstances and racial customs 
was responsible for the suggestion of the desirability and 
the possibility artificially to preserve the corpse. How did 
the people of the Torres Straits acquire the knowledge 
even of the possibility of such an attainment, not to 
mention the absence of any inherent suggestion of its 
desirability? For in the hot, damp atmosphere of such 
places as Darnley Island the corpse would never have 
been preserved by natural means, so that the suggestion 
which stimulated the Egyptians to embark upon their 
experimentation was lacking in the case of the Papuans. 
But even if for some mysterious reasons these people had 
been prompted to attempt to preserve their dead, during 
the experimental stage they would have had to combat 
these same unfavourable conditions. Is it at all probable 
or even possible to conceive that under such exceptionally 
difficult, not to say discouraging, circumstances they 
would have persisted for long periods in their gruesome 
experiments ; or have attained a more rapid success than 
the more cultured peoples of Egypt and Europe, operating 
under more favourable climatic conditions, and with the 
help of a knowledge of chemistry and physics, were able 
to achieve ? The suggestion is too preposterous to call 
for serious consideration. 

But if for the moment we assume that the Darnley 
Islander instinctively arrived at the conclusion that it was 
possible to preserve the dead, that he would rather like 
to try it, and that by some mysterious inspiration the 
technical means of attaining this object was vouchsafed 
him, why, when the whole ventral surface of the body 
was temptingly inviting him to operate by the simplest 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 10. 27 

and most direct means, did he restrict his choice to the 
two most difficult sites for his incision ? We know why 
the Egyptian made the opening in the left flank and in 
other cases in the perineum ; but is it likely the Papuan, 
once he had decided to cut the body, would have had 
such a respect for the preservation of the integrity of the 
front of the body as to impel him to choose a means of 
procedure which added greatly to the technical difficulty 
of the operation ? We have the most positive evidence 
that the Papuan had no such design, for it was his usual 
procedure to cut the head off the trunk and pay little 
further attention to the latter. Myres' contention will not 
stand a moment's examination. 

As to the use of red-ochre, which Myres rightly 
claimed to be so widespread, no hint was given of the 
possibility that it might be so extensively practised 
simply because the Egyptian custom had spread far and 
wide. 

It is important to remember that the practice of 
painting stone statues with red-ochre (obviously to make 
them more life-like) was in vogue in Egypt before 3000 
B.C.; and throughout the whole "heliolithic" area, wherever 
the conception of human beings dwelling in stones, whether 
carved or not, was adopted, the Egyptian practice of 
applying red paint also came into vogue. But it was not 
until more than twenty centuries later i.e. when, for quite 
definite reasons in the XX 1st Dynasty, the Egyptians 
conceived the idea of converting the mummy itself into a 
statue that they introduced the procedure of painting 
the mummy (the actual body), simply because it was 
regarded as the statue (78). 

After Professor Myres, Dr. Haddon offered two 
criticisms. Firstly, the incisions in the feet and knees 
were not suggested by Egyptian practices, but were 



28 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

made for the strictly utilitarian purpose of draining the 
fluids from the body. I have dealt with this point 
already (vide supra}. His second objection was that 
there were no links between Egypt and Papua to indicate 
that the custom had spread. The present communication 
is intended to dispose of that objection by demonstrating 
not only the route by which, but also how, the practice 
reached the Torres Straits after the long journey from 
Egypt 

It will be noticed that this criticism leaves my main 
arguments from the mummies quite untouched. More- 
over, the fact that originally I made use of the testimony 
of the mummies merely in support of evidence of other 
kinds (the physical characters of the peoples and the 
distribution of megalithic monuments) was completely 
ignored by my critics. 

But, as I have already remarked, it is not merely the 
remarkable identity of so many of the peculiar features of 
Papuan and Egyptian embalming that affords definite 
evidence of the derivation of one from the other ; but in 
addition, many of the ceremonies and practices, as well 
as the traditions relating to the people who introduced 
the custom of mummification, corroborate the fact that 
immigrants from the west introduced these elements of 
culture. In addition, they also suggest their affinities. 

" A hero-cult, with masked performers and elaborate 
dances, spread from the mainland of New Guinea to the 
adjacent islands : part of this movement seems to have 
been associated with a funeral ritual that emphasised a 
life after death. . . . Most of the funeral ceremonies and 
many sacred songs admittedly came from the west " 
(Haddon, 25, p. 45). 

" Certain culture-heroes severally established them- 
selves on certain islands, and they or their followers 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 1O. 29 

introduced a new cult which considerably modified the 
antecedent totemism," and taught " improved methods of 
cultivation and fishing" (p. 44). 

" An interesting parallel to these hero-cults of Torres 
Straits occurred also in Fiji. The people of Vitf-Levu 
trace their descent from [culture-heroes] who drifted across 
the Big Ocean and taught to the people the cult associated 
with the large stone enclosures" (p. 45). 

In these islands the people were expert at carving 
stone idols and they had legends concerning certain 
"stones that once were men" (p. u). It is also signifi- 
cant that at the bier of a near relative, boys and girls, who 
had arrived at the age of puberty, had their ears pierced 
and their skin tattooed (p. 154). 

Thus Haddon himself supplies so many precise tokens 
of the " heliolithic " nature of the culture of the Torres 
Straits, 

These hints of migrations and the coming of strangers 
bringing from the west curious practices and beliefs may 
seem at first sight to add little to the evidence afforded 
by the technique of the embalming process ; but the sub- 
sequent discussion will make it plain that the association 
of these particular procedures with mummification serves 
to clinch the demonstration of the source from which 
that practice was derived. 

It is doubly interesting to obtain all this corroborative 
evidence from the writings of Dr. Haddon, in view of the 
fact, to which I have already referred, that he vigorously 
protested against my contention that the embalmers of 
the Torres Straits acquired their art, directly or indirectly, 
from Egypt. For, in his graphic account of a burial 
ceremony at Murray Islands, his confession that, as he 
watched the funerary boat and the wailing women, his 
" mind wandered back thousands of years, and called up 



30 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

ancient Egypt carrying its dead in boats across the sacred 
Nile'' has a much deeper and more real significance than 
he intended. The analogy which at once sprang to his 
mind was not merely a chance resemblance, but the ex- 
pression of a definite survival amongst these simple people 
in the Far East of customs their remote ancestors had 
acquired, through many intermediaries no doubt, from 
the Egyptians of the ninth century B C. 

At the time when Dr. Haddon asked for the evidence 
for the connection between Egypt and Papua, I was aware 
only of the Burmese practices (vide infra] in the inter- 
vening area, and the problem of establishing the means 
by which the Egyptian custom actually spread seemed to 
be a very formidable task. 

But soon after my return from Australia all the links 
in the cultural chain came to light. Mr. W. J. Perry, who 
had been engaged in analysing the complex mixture of 
cultures in Indonesia, kindly permitted me to read the 
manuscript of the book he had written upon the subject. 
With remarkable perspicuity he had unravelled the appar- 
ently hopeless tangle into which the social organisation 
of this ethnological cockpit has been involved by the 
mixture of peoples and the conflict of diverse beliefs and 
customs. His convincing demonstration of the fact that 
there had been an immigration into Indonesia (from the 
West) of a people who introduced megalithic ideas, sun- 
worship and phallism, and many other distinctive practices 
and traditions, not only gave me precisely the informa- 
tion I needed, but also directed my attention to the fact 
that the culture (for which, so he informed me, Professor 
Brockwell, of Montreal, had suggested the distinctive 
term " heliolithic ") included also the practice of mummi- 
fication. In the course of continuous discussions with 
him during the last four months a clear view of the whole 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 1O. 31 

problem and the means of solving most of its difficulties 
emerged. 

For Perry's work in this field, no less than for my 
own, Rivers' illuminating and truly epoch-making re- 
searches (64 to 70) have cleared the ground. Not only 
has he removed from the path of investigators the 
apparently insuperable obstacles to the demonstration of 
the spread of cultures by showing how useful arts can be 
lost (65) ; but he has analysed the social organisation of 
Oceania in such a way that the various waves of immi- 
gration into the Pacific can be identified and with cer- 
tainty be referred back to Indonesia (69). Many other 
scholars in the past have produced evidence (for example 
2; 60; 6l and 98) to demonstrate that the Polynesians 
came from Indonesia ; but Rivers analysed and defined 
the characteristic features of several streams of .culture 
which flowed from Indonesia into the Pacific. Perry 
undertook the task of tracing these peoples through the 
Indonesian maze and pushing back their origins to India. 
In the present communication I shall attempt to sketch 
in broad outline the process of the gradual accumulation 
in Egypt and the neighbourhood of the cultural outfit of 
these great wanderers, and to follow them in their migra- 
tions west, south and east from the place where their 
curious assortment of customs and accomplishments 
became fortuitously associated one with the other (Map 

n.). 

I cannot claim that my colleagues in this campaign 
against what seems to us to be the utterly mistaken pre- 
cepts of modern ethnology see altogether eye to eye with 
me. They have been dealing exclusively with more 
primitive peoples amongst whom every new attainment, 
in arts and crafts, in beliefs and social organisation, in 
everything in fact that we regard as an element of civili- 



32 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

zation, has been introduced from without by more cul- 
tured races, or fashioned in the conflict between races of 
different traditions and ideals. 

My investigations, on the contrary, have been con- 
cerned mainly with the actual invention of the elements 
of civilization and with the people who created practically 
all of its ingredients the ideas, the implements and 
methods of the arts and crafts which give expression to it. 
Though superficially my attitude may seem to clash with 
theirs, in that I am attempting to explain the primary 
origin of some of the things, with which they are dealing 
only as ready-made customs and beliefs that were handed 
on from people to people, there is no real antagonism 
between us. 

It is obvious that there must be a limit to the appli- 
cation of the borrowing-explanation ; and when we are 
forced to consider the people who really invented things, 
it is necessary to frame some working hypothesis in ex- 
planation of such achievements, unless we feebly confess 
that it is useless to attempt such enquiries. 

In previous works (82 and 85) I have explained why 
it must be something more than a mere coincidence that 
in Egypt, where the operation of natural forces leads to 
the preservation of the corpse when buried in the hot dry 
sand, it should have become a cardinal tenet in the beliefs 
of the people to strive after the preservation of the body 
as the essential means of continuing an existence after 
death. When death occurred the only difference that 
could be detected between the corpse and the living 
body was the absence of the vital spirit from the former. 
[For the interpretation of the Egyptians' peculiar ideas 
concerning death, see Alan Gardiner's important article 
(23).] It was in a condition in some sense analogous to 
sleep ; and the corpse, therefore, was placed in its " dwel- 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 1O. 33 

ling" in the soil lying in the attitude naturally assumed 
by primitive people when sleeping. Its vital spirit or ka 
was liberated from the body, but hovered round the 
corpse so long as its tissues were preserved. It needed 
food and all the other things that ministered to the wel- 
fare and comfort of the living, not omitting the luxuries 
and personal adornments which helped to make life 
pleasant. Hence at all times graves became the objects 
of plunder on the part of unscrupulous contemporaries ; 
and so incidentally the knowledge was forthcoming from 
time to time of the fate of the body in the grave. 

The burial customs of the Proto-Egyptians, starting 
from those common to the whole group of the Brown 
Race in the Neolithic phase, first became differentiated 
from the rest when special importance came to be attached 
to the preservation of the actual tissues of the body. 

It was this development, no doubt, that prompted 
their more careful arrangements for the protection of the 
corpse, an.d gradually led to the aggrandisement of the 
tomb, the more abundant provision of food offerings and 
funerary equipment in general. 

Even in the earliest known Pre-dynastic period the 
Proto-Egyptians were in the habit of loosely wrapping 
their dead in linen for the art of the weaver goes back 
to that remote time in Egypt and then protecting the 
wrapped corpse from contact with the soil by an addi- 
tional wrapping of goat-skin or matting. 

Then, as the tomb became larger, to accommodate 
the more abundant offerings, almost every conceivable 
device was tried to protect the body from such contact. 
Instead of the goat-skin or matting, in many cases the 
same result was obtained by lining the grave with series 
of sticks, with slabs of wood, with pieces of unhewn stone, 
or by lining the grave with mud-bricks. In other cases, 



34 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

again, large pottery coffins, of an oblong, elliptical, or 
circular form, were used. Later on, when metal imple- 
ments were invented (90), and the skill to use them created 
the crafts of the carpenter and stonemason, coffins of 
wood or stone came into vogue. It is quite certain 
that the coffin and sarcophagus were Egyptian inventions. 
The mere fact of this extraordinary variety of means 
and materials employed in Egypt, when in other countries 
one definite method was adopted, is proof of the most 
positive kind that these measures for lining the grave 
were actually invented in Egypt. For the inventor tries 
experiments : the borrower imitates one definite thing. 
During this process of gradual evolution, which occupied 
the whole of the Pre- and Proto-dynastic periods, the 
practice of inhumation (in the strict sense of the term) 
changed step by step into one of burial in a tomb. In 
other words, instead of burial in the soil, the body came 
to be lodged in a carefully constructed subterranean 
chamber, which no longer was filled up with earth. The 
further stages in this process of evolution of tomb con- 
struction, the way in which the rock-cut tomb came into 
existence, and the gradual development of the stone 
superstructure and temple of offerings all of these 
matters have been summarised in some detail in my 
article on the evolution of megalithic monuments (94). 

What especially I want to emphasize here is that in 
Egypt is preserved every stage in the gradual transfor- 
mation of the burial customs from simple inhumation 
into that associated with the fully-developed rock-cut 
tomb and the stone temple. There can be no question 
that the craft of the stonemason and the practice of 
building megalithic monuments originated in Egypt. In 
addition, I want to make it quite clear that there is the 
most intimate genetic relationship between the develop- 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 10. 35 

ment of these megalithic practices and the origin of the 
art of mummification. 

For in course of time the early Egyptians came to 
learn, no doubt again from the discoveries of their tomb- 
robbers, that the fate of the corpse,after remaining for some 
time in a roomy rock-cut tomb or stone coffin, was vastly 
different from that which befell the body when simply 
buried in the hot, dry, desiccating sand. In respect of 
the former they acquired the idea which the Greeks many 
centuries later embalmed in the word " sarcophagus," 
under the ^simple belief that the disappearance of the 
flesh was due to the stone in some mysterious way 
devouring it. 7 [Certain modern archaeologists within re- 
cent years have entertained an equally child-like, though 
even less informed, view when they claimed the absence 
of any trace of the flesh in certain stone sarcophagi as 
evidence in favour of a fantastic belief that the Neolithic 
people of the Mediterranean area were addicted to the 
supposed practice which Italian archaeologists call searni- 



But by the time the discovery was made that bodies 
placed in more sumptuous tombs were no longer pre- 
served as they were apt to be when buried in the sand, 
the idea of the necessity for the preservation of the body 
as the essential condition for the attainment of a future 
existence had become fixed in the minds of the people 
and established by several centuries of belief as the 
cardinal tenet of their faith. Thus the very measures 
they had taken the more surely to guard and preserve 
the sacred remains of their dead had led to a result the 
reverse of what had been intended. 

7 It is a curious reflection that the idea of stone living which made such 
a fantastic belief possible may itself have arisen from the Egyptian practices 
about to be described. 



36 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

The elaborate ritual that had grown up and the im- 
posing architectural traditions were not abandoned when 
this discovery was made. Even in these modern en- 
lightened days human nature does not react in that way. 
The cherished beliefs held by centuries of ancestors are 
not renounced for any discovery of science. The ethno- 
logist has not given up his objections to the idea of the 
spread of culture, now that all the difficulties that mili- 
tated against the acceptance of the common-sense view 
have been removed ! Nor did the Egyptians of the Proto- 
dynastic period revert to the practices of their early 
ancestors and take to sand-burial again. They adopted 
the only other alternative open to a people who retained 
implicitly the belief in the necessity of preserving the 
body, i.e., they set about attempting to attain by art what 
nature unaided no longer secured, so long as they clung 
to their custom of burying in large tombs. They en- 
deavoured artificially to preserve the bodies of their dead. 
This explains what I meant to imply when I said 
that the megalithic idea and the incentive to mummify 
the dead are genetically related, the one to the other. 
The stone-tomb came into existence as a direct result of 
the importance attached to the corpse. This develop- 
ment defeated the very object that inspired it. The 
invention of the art of embalming was the logical out- 
come of the attempt to remedy this unexpected result. 

As in the history of every similar happening else- 
where, necessity, or what these simple-minded people 
believed to be a necessity, was the " mother of invention." 
In the course of the following discussion it will be 
seen that the practice of mummification became linked up 
in another way with what may be called the megalithic 
traditions. The crudely-preserved body no longer re- 
tained any likeness to the person as his friends knew him 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 10. 37 

when alive. A life-like stone statue was therefore made 
to represent him. Magical means (p. 42) were adopted to 
give life to the statue. Thus originated the belief that a 
stone might become the dwelling of a living person ; and 
that a person when dead may become converted into 
stone. So insistent did this belief become that among 

fc> 

more uncultured people, who borrowed Egyptian prac- 
tices but were unable to make portrait statues, a rudely- 
shaped or even unhewn pillar of stone came to be 
regarded as the dwelling of the deceased. 

Thus from being the mere device for the identifica-\ 
tion of the deceased the stone statue degenerated among 
less cultured people into an object even less like the dead 
man than his own crudely-made mummy. But the funda- 
mental idea remained and became the starting point for 
that rich crop of petrifaction-myths and beliefs concerning 
men and animals living in stones. 

Thus arose in Egypt, somewhere about 3000 B.C., the 
nucleus of the "heliolithic" culture-complex mummifica- 
tion, megalithic architecture, and the making of idols, 
three practices most intimately and genetically linked one 
with the other. But it was the merest accident that the 
people amongst whom these customs developed, should 
also have been weavers of linen, workers in copper, wor- 
shippers of the sun and serpent, and practitioners of 
massage and circumcision. 

But it was not for another fifteen centuries that the 
characteristic "heliolithic 3 ' culture-complex was com- 
pleted by the addition of numerous other trivial customs, 
like ear-piercing, tattooing and the use of the swastika, 
none of which originated in Egypt, but happened to have 
become " tacked on " to that distinctive culture before its 
great world tour began. 

The earliest unquestionable evidence (89) of an attempt 



38 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

artificially to preserve the body was found in a rock-cut 
tomb of the Second Dynasty, at Sakkara. It is important 
to note that the body was lying in a flexed position upon 
the left side, and was contained in a short wooden coffin, 
modelled like a house. The limbs were wrapped separately 
and large quantities of fine linen bandages had been 
applied around all parts of the body, so as to mould the 
wrapped mummy to a life-like form. 

Thus in the earliest mummy or, to be strictly 
accurate, in the remains which exhibit the earliest 
evidence of the attempt at embalming we find exem- 
plified the two objects that the Ancient Egyptian em- 
balmer aimed at throughout the whole history of his craft, 
viz., to preserve the actual tissues of the body, as well as 
\ the form and likeness of the deceased as he was when alive. 

From the first the embalmer realised the limitations 
of his craftsmanship, i.e., that he was unable to make the 
body itself lifelike. Hence he strove to preserve its tissues 
and then to make use of its wrappings for the purpose of 
fashioning a model or statue of the dead man. At first 
this was done while the body was flexed in the traditional 
manner. But soon the flexed position was gradually 
abandoned. Perhaps this change was brought about 
because it was easier to model the superficial form of a 
wrapped body when extended ; and the greater success 
of the results so obtained may have been sufficiently 
important to have outweighed the restraining influence of 
tradition. The change may have occurred all the more 
readily at this time as beds were coming into use, and the 
idea of placing the " sleeping " body on a bed may have 
helped towards the process of extension. 

But whatever view is taken of the explanation of the 
change of the attitude of the body, it is certain that it 
began soon after the first attempts at mummification 



Manchester Memoirs, VoL lix. (1915), No. 10. 39 

were made. The evidence of extended burials, referred 
to the First Dynasty, which were found by Flinders 
Petrie at Tarkhan (54), may seem to contradict this : but 
there are reasons for believing that attempts at embalming 
were being made even at that time (85). It seems to be 
definitely proved that this change was not due to any 
foreign influence (45). At the time that it occurred 
there was a very considerable alien element in the popu- 
lation of Egypt ; but the admixture took place long 
before the change in the position of the body was mani- 
fested. Perhaps the presence of a large foreign element 
may have weakened the sway of Egyptian tradition ; but 
the evidence seems definitely opposed to the inference 
that it played any active part in the change of custom. 
For the history of the gradual way in which the change 
was slowly effected is certain proof of the causal factors 
at work. There was no sudden adoption of the fully 
extended position, but a slow and very gradual straighten- 
ing of the limbs a process which it took centuries to 
complete. The analysis of the evidence by Mace is quite 
'conclusive on this point (45). 

1 am strongly of the opinion that there is a causal 
relationship between this gradual extension of the body 
and the measures for the reconstruction of a lifelike 
model of the deceased, with the help of the mummy's 
wrappings. In other words, the adoption of the extended 
position was a direct result of the introduction of mummi- 
fication. 

At an early stage in the history of these changes it 
seems to have been realised that the likeness of the 
deceased which could be made of the wrapped mummy 
lacked the exactness and precision demanded of a portrait 
Perhaps also there may have been some doubt as to the 
durability of a statue made of linen. 



40 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

A number of interesting developments occurred at 
about this time to overcome these defects. In one case 
(85), found at Medum by Flinders Petrie, the superficial 
bandages were saturated with a paste of resin and soda, 
and the same material was applied to the surface of the 
wrappings, which, while still in a plastic condition, was 
very skilfully moulded to form a life-like statue. The 
resinous carapace thus built up set to form a covering of 
stony hardness. Special care was devoted to the model- 
ling of the head (sometimes the face only) and the 
genitalia, no doubt to serve as the means of identifying 
the individual and indicating the sex respectively. 

The hair (or, perhaps, it would be more correct to say, 
the wig) and the moustache were painted with a dark 
brown or black resinous mixture, and the pupils, eyelids 
and eyebrows were represented by painting with a mix- 
ture of malachite powder and resinous paste. In other 
cases, recently described by Junker (40), plaster was used 
for the same purpose as the resinous paste in Petrie's 
mummy. In two of the four instances of this practice 
found by Junker, only the head was modelled. 

The special importance assigned to the head is one 
of the outstanding features of ancient Egyptian statuary. 
It was exemplified in another way in the tombs of the 
early part of the Old Kingdom, as Junker has recalled in 
his memoir, by the construction of stone portrait-statues 
of the head only, which were made life-size and placed in 
the burial chamber alongside the mummy. It seems to 
me that Junker overlooks an essential, if not the. chief, 
reason for the special importance assigned to the head 
when he attributes it to the fact that the head contained 
the organs of sight, smell, hearing and taste. There can 
be no doubt that the head was modelled because it affords 
the chief means of recognising an individual. This por- 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 1O. 41 

trayal of the features enabled any one, including the 
deceased's own ka, to identify the owner. Every circum- 
stance of the making and the use of these heads bears 
out this interpretation, and no one has explained these 
facts more lucidly than Junker himself. 

[Since the foregoing paragraphs have been put into 
print a preliminary report has come to hand from Professor 
Reisner, to whom I am indebted for most of my informa- 
tion regarding these portrait heads Mi4seum of Fine Arts 
Bulletin, Boston, April, 1915.] 

At a somewhat later period in the Old Kingdom the 
making of these so-called "substitution-heads" was dis- 
continued, and it became the practice to make a statue of 
the whole man (of woman), which was placed above- 
ground in the megalithic serdab within the mastaba (see 
94). But even when the complete, statue was made for 
the serdab the head alone was the part that was modelled 
with any approach to realism. In other words, the 
importance of the head as the chief means of identification 
was still recognised. Moreover, this idea manifested itself 
throughout the whole history of Egyptian mummification, 
for as late as the first century of the Christian era a por- 
trait of the deceased was placed in front of the face of 
the mummy. 

Thus in course of time the original idea of converting 
the wrapped body itself into a portrait-statue of the 
deceased was temporarily 8 abandoned and the mummy 
was stowed away in the burial chamber at the bottom of 
a deep shaft, the better to protect it from desecration, 
while the portrait-statue was placed above ground, in a 
strong chamber (serdab}, hidden in the mastaba (94). 

8 How insistent the desire was to make a statue of the mummy itself is 
shown by the repeated attempts made in later times ; see the account of the 
mummies of Amenophis III. (86) and of the rulers and priests of the XXIst 
and XXI Ind Dynasties (78 and 87). 



42 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

A certain magical value soon came to be attached to 
the statue in the serdab. It provided the body in which 
the ka could become reincarnated, and the deceased, thus 
reconstituted by magical means, could pass through the 
small hole in the serdab to enter the chapel of offerings 
and enjoy the food and the society of his friends there. 

Dr. Alan Gardiner has kindly given me the following 
note in reference to this matter : " That statues in Egypt 
were meant to be efficient animate substitutes for the 
person or creature they portrayed has not been sufficiently 
emphasised hitherto. Over every statue or image were 
performed the rites of ' opening the mouth ' magical 
passes made with a kind of metal chisel in front of the 
mouth. Besides the up-ro ' mouth opening,' other words 
testify to the prevalence of the same idea ; the word for 
'to fashion' a statue (ms) is to all appearances identical 
with ms ' to give birth,' and the term for the sculptor was 
sdnkli, ' he who causes to live.' " 

As Blackman (5) has pointed out, the Pyramid Texts 
make it clear that libations were poured out and incense 
burnt before the statue or the mummy with the specific 
object of restoring , to it the moisture and the odour 
respectively which the body had during life. 

I have already indicated how, out of the conception 
of the possibility of bringing to life the stone portrait- 
statue, a series of curious customs were developed. A mong 
peoples on a lower cultural plane, who were less skilled 
than the Egyptians in stone-carving, the making of a life- 
like statue was beyond their powers. Sometimes they 
made the attempt to represent the human form ; in other 
cases crude representations of the breasts or suggestions 
of the genitalia were the only signs on a stone pillar to 
indicate that it was meant to represent a human statue: 
in many cases a simple uncarved block of stone was set 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 1O. 43 

up. But the idea that such a pillar, whether carved or 
not, was the dwelling of some deceased person, seized 
the imagination and spread far and wide. It is seen in 
the Pygmalion and Galatea story, and its converse in the 
tragic history of Lot's wife. It is found 'throughout the 
Mediterranean area, the whole littoral of Southern Asia, 
Indonesia, the Pacific Islands and America, and can be 
regarded as definite evidence of the influence of the cult 
that developed in association with the practice of mummi- 
fication. 

It is necessary to emphasise that the making of N 
portrait-statues was an outcome of the practice of mummi- > 
fication and an integral part of the cult associated with 
that burial custom. Hartland falls into grave error 
when he writes u where other peoples set up images of 
the deceased,, those who practised desiccation or embalm- 
ment' were enabled to keep the bodies themselves " (32, 
p. 418). It was precisely the people who embalmed or 
preserved the bodies of their dead who also made statues 
of them. 

As these stones, according to such beliefs, could be 
made to hear and speak (23), they naturally became 
oracles. People were able to commune with and get 
advice and instruction from the kings and wise men who 
dwelt within these stone pillars. Thus it became the 
custom in many lands for meetings of special solemnity, 
such as those where important decisions had to be made, 
to be held at stone circles, where the members of the 
convention sat on the stones and communed with their 
ancestors, former rulers or wise men, who dwelt in the- 
stones (or the grave) in the centre of the circle. 

"Chardin, in his account of the stone circles he saw 
in Persia, mentions a tradition that they were used as 
places of assembly, each member of the council being 



44 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

seated on a stone ; Homer, in his description of the shield 
of Achilles in the Iliad, speaks of the elders sitting in 
the place of justice upon stones in a circle ; Plot, in his 
account of the Rollrich stones in Oxfordshire, says that 
Olaus Wormius, Saxo Grammaticus, Meursius, and many 
other early historians, concur in stating that it was the 
practice of the ancient Danes to elect their kings in stone 
circles, each member of the council being seated upon a 
stone ; the tradition arising out of this custom, that these 
stones represent petrified giants, is widely spread in all 
countries where they occur, and Col. Forbes Leslie has 
shown that within the historic period, these circles were 
used in Scotland as places of justice" (Lane Fox, 20, 
p. 64). Is not our king crowned seated upon the Lia-fail, 
which is now in the coronation chair at Westminster? 
Such customs and beliefs are widespread also in India, 
Indonesia, and beyond, as W. J. Perry has pointed out. 
The practices still observed in the Khasia Hills in modern 
times clearly indicate the significance of this use of stone 
seats ; and the custom can be found from the Canary 
Islands in the West (26) to Costa Rica in the East, 
encircling the whole globe (compare " Man" May, 1915, 

P- 79)- 

I. shall enter more fully into the consideration of the 
origin of the ideas associated with stone seats when Perry 
has published his important analysis of the significance of 
so curious a practice. 

The converse of the belief in the bringing to life of 
stone statues or perhaps it would be more correct to say, 
the complementary view that, if a stone can be converted 
into a living creature, the latter can also be transformed 
into stone is found also wherever the parent belief is 
known to exist. As a rule it forms part of a complexly 
interwoven series of traditions concerning the creation, 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 1O. 45 

the deluge, the destruction of the " sons of men " by 
petrifaction, and the repeopling the earth by the incestuous 
intercourse of the "children of the gods." 

Perry, who has made a study of the geographical 
distribution and associations of these curiously-linked 
traditions, has clearly demonstrated that they form an 
integral part of the cultural equipment of the sun- 
worshipping, stone-using peoples. 

In the foregoing statement I have endeavoured to 
indicate also their genetic connection with the ideas that 
sprang from the early practice of mummification in Egypt. 

There are many other curious features of the early 
Egyptian practices which might have served as straws to 
indicate how the cultural current had flowed, if much 
more substantial proofs had not been available of the 
reality of the movement. The diffusion of such a dis- 
tinctive object as the Egyptian head-rest, which used to 
be buried with mummies of the Pyramid Age, is an 
example. It occurs widely spread in Africa, Southern 
Asia, Indonesia and the Pacific. 

But the use of beds as funerary biers is a much more 
distinctive custom. The believers in theories of the 
independent evolution of customs may say "is it not 
natural to expect that people who regarded death as a 
kind of sleep should have placed head-rests and beds in 
the graves of their dead " ? But how would such ethno- 
logists explain the use of a funerary bier on the part of 
people (such as many of the less cultured people who 
adopted this Egyptian custom) who do not themselves 
use beds ? 

The evidence afforded by the use of biers is, in fact, a 
most definite demonstration of the diffusion of customs. 
Although it is a familiar scene in ancient Egyptian 
pictures to find the mummy borne upon a bed a custom 



46 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

which we know from Egyptian literature, no less than 
that of the Jews, Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans to have 
been actually observed only one Egyptian cemetery, so 
far as I am aware a proto-dynastic site, excavated by 
Flinders Petrie (54) at Tarkhan has revealed corpses 
lying upon beds. But in a cemetery, some sixteen cen- 
turies later, excavated by Reisner in the Soudan (62), a 
similar practice was demonstrated. Garstang has recorded 
the observance of a similar custom further South (Meroe) 
at a later date. 

These form useful connecting links with the region 
around the head -waters of the Nile, where even in modern 
times this practice has survived, and the mummified 
corpse of the king is placed upon a rough bier. I shall 
have occasion to point out later on that this curious 
practice spread from East Africa along the Asiatic littoral 
to Indonesia, Melanesia and Polynesia, thence to the 
American continent ; and in most places was definitely 
associated with attempts at preservation of the corpse. 

In many places along the whole course of the same 
great track, instead of a bed, a boat of some sort, usually 
a rough dug-out, was used. This practice also was 
observed in Egypt, where its symbolic purpose is clearly 
apparent. 

Another distinctive feature of the burial customs in 
the same area was the idea that the grave represented the 
house in which the deceased was sleeping. How defi- 
nitely this view was held by the proto-Egyptians is seen 
in their coffins, subterranean burial chambers, and the 
superstructures of their tombs, all three of which were 
originally represented as dwelling houses (see my memoir, 

94)- 

The Pyramid texts clearly explain the precise signifi- 
cance and origin of the hitherto mysterious and wide- 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. Hz. (1915), No. 1O. 47 

spread custom of burning incense at the statue. For, as 
Blackman (5) has pointed out, the aim was by burning 
aromatic woods and resins thereby magically to restore 
to the "body" the odours of the living person. 

It was therefore intimately related to the practice of 
mummification and genetically connected with it. It was 
part of the magical procedure for making the portrait- 
statue of the deceased (or later, in the time of the New 
Empire, the mummy itself) "an efficient animate sub- 
stitute for the person " (Alan Gardiner). 

A careful investigation of the geographical distribution 
of the custom of burning incense before the corpse and of 
the circumstances related to such a practice has convinced 
me that wherever it is found, even where no attempt is 
made to preserve the body, it can be regarded as an 
indication of the influence of the Egyptian custom of 
mummification. For apart from such an influence incense- 
burning is inexplicable. The attempt on the part of 
certain writers to explain the use of incense merely as a 
means of disguising the odours of putrefaction will not 
bear examination. It is an example of that kind of 
so-called psychological explanation which is opposed by 
all the ascertainable facts. 

Beyond the borders of Egypt peoples who for a time 
adopted the custom of embalming and then for some 
reason, such as the failure to attain successful results or 
the adoption of conflicting beliefs or customs, allowed 
the practice to lapse, the simpler parts of the Egyptian 
funerary ritual often- continued to be observed. The body 
was anointed with oil, perhaps packed in salt and aromatic 
plants, wrapped in linen or fine clothes, had incense 
burned before it, and was laid on a bed or special bier. 
All of these practices originated in Egypt and observance 
of any or all of them is to be regarded as a sure sign of 



48 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

the influence of the Egyptian custom of mummification. 
Among the more immediate neighbours of the Egyptians, 
such as the Jews, Greeks and Romans, the evidence for 
this is clear. Occasionally the full process of embalming 
was followed, even if it were only a temporary procedure 
preliminary to the observance of some other burial custom, 
such as cremation, perhaps inspired by ideas wholly 
foreign to those which prompted mummification. I need 
not enumerate instances of this curious syncretism of 
burial customs, numerous examples of which will be found 
in Reutter (63, pp. 144-147) and in Hastings' Dictionary 
(32), as well as in the following pages. 

At the very earliest period in Egypt from which 
historical records have come down to us (the time of the 
First Dynasty, 3200 B.C., or even earlier) "the king's 
favourite title was ' Horus,' by which he identified himself 
as the successor of the great god [the hawk sun-god] who 
had once ruled over the kingdom .... [other symbols 
often appeared] side by side with Buto, the serpent-goddess 
of the northern capital. As [the king] felt himself still as 
primarily king of Upper Egypt, it was not until later 
that he wore the serpent of the North, the sacred uraeus, 
upon his forehead " .(Breasted, 6, p. 38). " The sun-disc, 
'''with the outspread wings of the hawk, became the com- 
monest symbol of their religion" (p. 54). But in the time 
of the Fourth Dynasty " the priests of Heliopolis now 
demanded that [the king, who had always been represented 
as the successor of the sun-god and had borne the title 
'Horus'] be the bodily son of Re, who henceforth would 
appear on earth to become the father of the Pharaoh" 
(P- 122). 

Now, when the Pharaoh thus became identified with 
the great sun-god Re, his Pyramid-temple became the 
place of worship of the sun-god. Megalithic architecture 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 1O. 49 

thus became indissolubly connected with sun-worship, 
simply from the accident of the invention of the art of 
building in stone of erecting stone tombs, which were 
also temples of offerings by a people who happened to 
be sun-worshippers and whose ruler's tomb became the 
shrine of the sun-god. I have already explained the close 
genetic connection between the practice of mummification 
and megalithic building. v 

The fact that the dominance of the sun-god Re was 
attained in the northern capital, which was also the seat 
of serpent-worship, led to the association of the sun and / 
the serpent. 9 From this purely fortuitous blending of the 
sun's disc with the uraeus, often combined, especially in 
later times, with the wings of the Horus-hawk, a symbolism 
came into being which was destined to spread until it 
encircled the world, from Ireland to America. For an 
excellent example of this composite symbolism from 
America see Bancroft, 3, Vol. IV., p, 351. A more striking 
illustration of the completeness of the transference of a 
complex and wholly artificial design from Ancient Egypt 
to America could not be imagined. [For the full discus- 
sion of the original association of the sun and the serpent 
see Sethe's important Memoir (74).] 

The chance circumstances which led to the linking 
together of all these incongruous elements mummifica- 
tion, megalithic architecture, the idea of the king as son 
of the sun, sun and serpent worship and its curious 
symbolism were created in Egypt, so that, wherever 
these peculiar customs or traditions make their appear- 
ance elsewhere in association the one with the other, it 
can confidently be regarded as a sure token of Egyptian 
influence, exerted directly or indirectly. 

9 For an account of the geographical distribution of serpent-worship 
and a remarkable demonstration of the intimacy of its association with 
distinctive " heliolithic " ideas, see Wake, 103. 



50 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

When certain modern ethnologists argue that it is the 
most natural thing in the world for primitive peoples to 
worship the sun as the obvious source of warmth and 
fertility, and therefore such worship can have no value as 
an indication of the contact of peoples, on general princi- 
ples one might be prepared to admit the validity of the 
claim. But when it is realised that sun-worship, wherever 
it is found, is invariably associated with part (or the whole) 
of a large series of curiously incongruous customs and 
beliefs, it is no longer possible to regard the worship of 
4 the sun as having originated independently in several 
/centres. Why should the sun-worshipper also worship 
the serpent and use a winged symbol, build megalithic 
monuments, mummify his dead, and practise a large series 
V of fantastic tricks to which other peoples are not addicted ? 
There is no inherent reason why a man who worships the 
sun should also tattoo his face, perforate his ears, practise 
circumcision, and make use of massage. In fact, until the 
time of the New Empire, the sun-worshipping Egyptian 
did not practise ear-piercing and tattooing, thereby illus- 
trating the fact that originally these practices were not 
part of the cult, and that their eventual association with it 
was purely accidental. This only serves more definitely to 
confirm the view that it was the fortuitous association of 
a curious series of customs in Egypt at the time of the 
New Empire which supplied the cultural outfit of the 
" heliolithic " wanderers for their great migration. 

In accordance with Egyptian beliefs "the sun was 
born every morning and sailed across the sky in a celestial 
barque, to arrive in the west and descend as an old man 
tottering into the grave" (Breasted, 6, p. 54). 

The deceased might reach the west by being borne 
across in the sun -god's barque : friendly spirits, the four 
sons of Horus, might bring him a craft on which he might 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 10. 51 

float over : but by far the majority depended upon the 
services of a ferryman called " Turnface " (Breasted, p. 

65). 

In later times (Middle Kingdom) a model boat, fully 
equipped, was usually put in the tomb, ^in order that the 
deceased might have no difficulty in crossing the waters 
to the happy isles." " By the pyramid of Sesostris III., in 
the sands of the desert, there were even buried five large 
Nile boats, intended to carry the king and his house 
across these waters" (Breasted, p. 176). 

At a later period "the triumph of a Theban family 
brought with it the supremacy of Amon. . . . His essential 
character and individuality had already been obliterated 
by the solar theology of the Middle Kingdom, when he 
had become Amon-Re, and with some attributes borrowed 
from his ithyphallic neighbour, Min of Coptos, he now 
rose to a unique and supreme position of unprecedented 
splendour " (6, p. 248). Thus there was added to this 
" heliolithic " complex of ideas the definitely phallic 
element : but one must confess that this aspect of the 
culture did not become obtrusive until it was planted in 
alien lands, where among the Phoenicians and the peoples 
of India the phallic aspect became more strongly empha- 
sised. From time to time various writers have striven to 
demonstrate a phallic motive in almost every element of 
the culture now under consideration. What I want to 
make clear is that it was a late addition, which was rela- 
tively insignificant in the original home of the culture. 

After this digression I must now return to the further 
consideration of the mummies themselves. 

Direct examination of the mummified bodies does not, 
of course, afford any certain evidence of the application 
of oil or fat to the surface of the body. Large quantities 
of fatty material were often found in the mouth and the 



52 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

body cavity (78 ; 8l and 86) ; and the surface of the body 
was often greasy ; but, of course, the fatty materials in 
the skin itself might have afforded a sufficient explanation 
of this. Dr. Alan Gardiner, however, tells me that ancient 
Egyptian literature contains repeated references to the 
process of anointing the body with " oil of cedar," 10 and 
great stress is laid upon this procedure as an essential 
element of the technique of embalming. 11 

Thus in the time of the decadence of the New Empire 
an -Egyptian writer laments the loosening of Egypt's hold 
on the Lebanons, because if no " oil of cedar " were obtain- 
able it might become impossible any longer to embalm 
the dead. 

Diodorus Siculus, writing many centuries later, says 
the body was " anointed with oil of cedar and other 
things for thirty days, and afterwards with myrrh, cinna- 
mon, and other such like matters" (Pettigrew, 56, p. 62). 
Thus there can be little doubt that it was an essential 
part of the Ancient Egyptian technique to anoint the 
body with oil. 

Pettigrew (56, p. 62, and also p. 242) adduces cogent 
reasons in proof of the fact that the Egyptians (and in 
modern times the Capuchins, at Palermo) made use of 
heat to desiccate the body, probably in a stove. 

It is quite clear, therefore, that the Ancient Egyptians 

10 Sir William Thiselton Dyer informs me that in all probability it was 
not cedar but juniper that was obtained by the Ancient Egyptians from 
Syria [and used for embalming]. The material to which reference is made 
here would probably be identical with the modern ' huile de cade,' and be 
obtained from junipv us excelsa. 

I retain the term " oil of cedar " to facilitate the bibliographical refer- 
ences, as all the archaeologists and historians invariably use this expression. 

11 Since this memoir has been printed Dr. Alan Gardiner has published 
a most luminous and important account of "The Tomb of Amenemhet" 
(N. de Garis Davies and Alan Gardiner, 1915), which throws a flood of light 
upon Egyptian ideas concerning the matters discussed in this communication. 



Manchester Memoir s. Vol. lix. (1915), No. 10. 53 

realised the importance of desiccation as an essential 
element in the preservation of the body. Moreover, they 
were familiar with a number of different means of ensur- 
ing this end : (i) by burial in dry sand (2) by exposure 
to the sun's rays ; (3) by removing all the softer and more 
putrescible parts of the body ; (4) possibly by massaging 
and squeezing out the juices from the body ; (5) by the 
free use of alcohol (palm wine) and large quantities of 
powdered wood ; and (6) by the aid of fire. 

Dr. Alan Gardiner tells me that the most ancient\ 
Egyptian writings, such, for example, as the Pyramid 
texts, afford positive evidence that the Egyptians recog- 
nised the fact of the desiccation of the body in the process 
of embalming, for their scribes tell us, in the most definite 
manner, that the aim of the ceremony of offering libations 
was magically to restore to the body (as represented by 
the statue above ground) the fluids it had lost during, 
embalming (Blackman, 5). 

If then the Egyptians of the Pyramid Age recognised 
the importance of restoring- the fluids to reanimate the 
mummy or its statue, it is quite clear they must have\ 
appreciated the physical fact that their process of preser-^ 
vation was largely a matter of desiccation. 

It is a point of some interest and importance to note 
in this connection that the essential processes of mummi- 
fication (i) salting, (2) evisceration, (3) drying, and (4) 
smoking (or even cooking) are identical with those 
adopted for the preservation of meat, and (5) the use of 
honey is analogous to the means taken to preserve fruit. 
In fact, the term used by Herodotus for the first stage of 
the Egyptian process of mummification is the term used 
for salting fish. It would be instructive to enquire in what 
measure these two needs of primitive man in North-East 
Africa mutually influenced one another, and led to an 



54 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

acquisition of knowledge useful to them for the preserva- 
tion both of their food and their dead relatives ! 

To the constituent elements of the " heliolithic " cul- 
ture may now be added the practices of anointing with 
oil or ungents, the burning of incense and the offering of 
libations, all derived from the ritual of embalming. 

In considering the southern extension of Egyptian 
influence it must be remembered that as early " as 2600 
B.C. the Egyptian had already begun the exploitation of 
the Upper Nile and had been led in military force as far 
as the present Province of Dongola " (62, p. 23). For 
several centuries Nubia and the Soudan were left very 
much to themselves. Then during the time of the Middle 
Kingdom Egypt once more exerted a powerful influence 
to the South. At the close of that period Egypt was 
overrun by the Hyksos. 

At Kerma, near the Third Cataract, Reisner has 
recently unearthed a cemetery which he refers to the 
Hyksos Period (62, p. 23). " The burial customs are 
revolting in their barbarity. On a carved bed in the 
middle of a big circular pit the chief personage lies on 
his right side with his head east. Under his head is a 
wooden pillow : between his legs a sword or dagger. 
Around the bed lie a varying number of bodies, male and 
female, all contracted on the right side, head east. Among 
them are the pots and pans, the cosmetic jars, the stools, 
and other objects. Over the whole burial is spread a 
great ox-hide. It is clear they were all buried at once. 
The men and women round about must have been 
sacrificed so that their spirits might accompany the chief 

to the other world I could not escape the belief 

that they had been buried alive "(62). These funerary 
practices supply a most important link in the chain which 
I am endeavouring to forge. I would especially call 






Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 1O. 55 

attention (i) -to the fact of the sacrifice of the chief's 
(? wives and) servants and (2) to the burial of the chief 
himself on a bed. 

We know that the Egyptian practice of mummifi- 
cation spread south into Nubia (39) and the Soudan. 

According to Herodotus the ancient Macrobioi pre- 
served the bodies of their dead by drying : then they 
covered them with plaster, painted them to look like 
living men, and set them up in their houses for a year. 
For a fuller account of this practice and much more 
instructive information for comparison see Ridgeway's 
" Early Age of Greece," Vol. I., p. 483 et seq. 

Numerous references in the classical writers lead us 
to believe that a similar custom of keeping the mummy v 
in the house of the relatives for a longer or shorter period 
may have been in vogue in Egypt. Throughout the 
widespread area in which mummification was practised 
from Africa to America a precisely similar practice is 
found among many peoples. 

The custom of covering the mummies with plaster 12 is 
an interesting survival of the practice described by Junker 
in Egypt (vide supra), which seems to supply the explana- 
tion of the curious measures adopted for modelling the 
face in Melanesia. 

Even at the present day, centuries after the art of the 
embalmer disappeared from Egypt, mummification is being 
attempted by certain people dwelling in the neighbour- 
hood of the head-waters of the Nile. 

In his article in Hastings' Dictionary (32, p. 418) 
Hartland states that the practice of mummification is 

12 Mr. Crooke has called my attention to a similar practice in India. 
Leith (Journ. Anthr. Soc. of Bombay, Vol. I., 1886, pp. 39 and 40) stated 
that the Kdsi Khanda contained an account of a Brahman who preserved 
his mother's corpse. After having it preserved and wrapped he "coated the 
whole with pure clay and finally deposited the corpse in a copper coffin." 



56 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

found "more or less throughout the west of Africa : among 
the Niamniam of the Upper Nile basin the bodies of 
chiefs, and among the Baganda the kings, are preserved, 
and the custom is found also among the Warundi in 
German East Africa (Frobenius) ; and in British Central 
Africa the corpse is rubbed with boiled maize (Werner)." 

Roscoe (72, p. 105), in his book on the Baganda, 
describes the process of embalming the king's body. As 
in Egypt, the body was disembowelled ; and the bowels 
were washed in beer, just as the Egyptians, according to 
Herodotus and Diodorus, are said to have done with 
palm-wine. The viscera were spread out in the sun to 
dry and were then returned to the body, as was done in 
Egypt at the time of the XX 1st Dynasty. The body 
was then dried and washed with beer. 

So far as we are aware, the Egyptians never sacrificed 
any human beings at their funerals, although they often 
placed in the serdab of the mastaba statues of the 
deceased's wife, family and servants, to ensure him their 
presence and the comforts of a home in his new form of 
existence. 

In the quotations from Reisner's report, it has just 
been seen that he found some burials made about 1800 
B.C., in which servants appear to have been sacrificed. 

In the case of the Baganda, Roscoe describes the 
killing of the king's wives and attendants at his funeral. 

Roscoe further describes (in his book) the body of the 
chief as being laid on a bed or framework of plantain 
trees (p. 117). 

At the end of five months the head was removed 
from the mummy and the jaw-bone was removed, cleaned, 
and then buried, and a large conical thatched temple was 
built over the jaw. [In the islands of the Torres Straits 
the same curious custom of rescuing the head after about 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 1O. 57 

six months is also found ; but it was the tongue and not 
the jaw which received special attention (25 and 27)]- 

In Egypt, where the practice of mummification was 
most successful, special treatment of the head was not 
necessary, except occasionally in Ptolemaic times (39), 
when carelessness on the part of the embalmer led to 
disastrous results and it became necessary to " fake " a 
body for attachment to the separated head. But as the 
Baganda were unable to make a mummy which would 
last, they adopted these special measures with regard to 
the skull. Originally special importance was. attached to 
the head, primarily (vide supra) as a means of identifying 
the deceased. But when the practice of preservation 
spread to uncultured people, whose efforts at embalming 
were ineffectual, the idea was transferred to the skull, the 
reason for the special treatment of the head probably 
being forgotten. Why such peculiar honour should be 
devoted to the jaw can only be surmised from our know- 
ledge of the belief that the deceased was supposed to be 
able to talk and communicate with the living (21). 

In his article in the Journal of the Anthropological 
Institute (72, p. 44) Roscoe give some further particulars. 
Four men and four women were clubbed to death at the 
funeral ceremony of the king. 

The body was wrapped in strips of bark cloth and 
each finger and toe was wrapped separately. 

In L Anthropologie (T. 21, 1910, p. 53) Poutrin says of 
the burial customs of the M'Baka people of French Congo 
" le corps, prealablement embaume avec des herbes secher 
et de la cendre est couche sur un lit." 

Weeks (104, pp. 450 and 451) gives an account of the 
burial customs of the Bangala of the Upper Congo. 
" They took out the entrails and buried them, placed the 
corpse on a frame, lit a fire under it, and thoroughly 



58 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

smoke-dried it." " The dried body was tied in a mat, put 
in a roughly made hut." " Coffins were often made out 
of old canoes." " Poorer folk were rubbed with oil and 
red camwood powder, bound round with cloth and tied 
up in a mat." 

One of the most remarkable instances of the survival 
of burial practices strangely reminiscent of those of 
ancient Egypt has been described by Mr. Amaury Talbot 
(99). Among the Ibibio people living in the extreme 
south-west corner of Nigeria, bordering on the Gulf of 
Guinea, he found that both the Ibibios and a neigh- 
bouring tribe, the Ibos, had burial rites which " recall 
those of ancient Egypt." For instance, " among Ibos 
embalming is still practised." Two methods of mummifi- 
cation, in which the evisceration of the corpse takes 
place, are practised. 

For the grave " a wide-mouthed pit " was dug and 
" from the bottom of this an underground passage, some- 
times thirty feet long, led into a square chamber with no 
other outlet. In this the dead body was laid, and, after 
the bearers had returned to the light of day, stones were 
set over the pit mouth and earth strewn over all." Further, 
in the case of the Ibibios, " in some prominent spot near 
the town arbour-like erections are raised as memorials, 
and furnished with the favourite property of the dead 
man. At the back or side of these is placed what we 
always called a little 'Ka' house, with window or door, 
into the central chamber, provided, as in ancient Egypt, 
for the abode of the dead man's Ka or double. Figures 
of the Chief, with favourite wives and slaves, may also be 
seen counterparts of the Ushabtiu." 

From the photographs illustrating Mr. Talbot's article 
many other remarkable points of resemblance to ancient 
Egyptian practices are to be noted. 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 10. 59 

The snake and the sun constitute the obtrusive 
features of the crude design painted in the funeral shrine. 
The fact that so many features of the Egyptian burial 
practices should have been retained (and in association 
with many other elements of the " heliolithic " culture) in 
this distant spot, on the other side of the continent, 
raises the question whether or not its proximity to the 
Atlantic littoral may not be, a contributory factor in the 
survival. They may have been spared by the remoteness 
of the retreat and the relative freedom from disturbance, 
to which nearer localities in the heart of the continent 
may have been subjected. But, on the other hand, there 
is the possibility that the spread of culture around the 
coast may have brought these Egyptian practices to Old 
Calabar. In the next few pages it will be seen that such 
a possibility is not so unlikely as it may appear at first 
sight. 

But the fact that it was the custom among the Ibibio 
to bury the wives of the king with his mummy suggests a 
truly African, as distinct from purely Egyptian, influence, 
and makes it probable that the custom spread across, the 
continent. This view is further supported by the tradi- 
tions of the people themselves, no less than by the physical 
features of their crania (see Report British Association, 
1912, p. 613). 

As the people of the Ivory Coast (vide infra) practice 
a method of embalming which is clearly Egyptian and 
untainted by these African influences, it is clear that the 
two streams of Nilotic culture, one across the continent 
vid Kordofan and Lake Chad and the other around the 
coasts of the Mediterranean and Atlantic, after reaching 
the West Coast must have met somewhere between the 
mouth of the Niger and the Ivory Coast. 

[Since writing the above paragraphs, in which infer- 



60 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

ences as to racial movements across Africa were based 
solely upon the distribution and methods of mummifica- 
tion, I have become acquainted with remarkable confirma- 
tion of these views from two different sources. Frobenius, 
in his book "The Voice of Africa," 1913 ,(see especially 
the map on p. 449, Vol. II.), makes an identical delimi- 
tation of the two spheres of influence from the east, 
trans- and circum- African (i.e., via the Mediterranean) 
respectively. 

Sir Harry Johnston (" A Survey of the Ethnography 
of Africa," Journ. Roy. Anthr. Inst., 1913, p. 384) supplies 
even more precise and definite confirmation of the route 
taken by the Egyptian culture-migration across Kordofan 
to Lake Chad, thence to the Niger basin and "all parts of 
West Africa." 

He adds further (pp. 412 and 413) : " Stone worship 
and the use of stone in building and sepulture extend 
from North Africa southwards across the desert region to 
Senegambia (sporadically) and the northern parts of the 
Sudan, and to Somaliland. The superstitious use of stone 
in connection with religion, burial and after-death memo- 
rial, reappears again in Yoruba, in the North-West 
Camerooris and adjoining Calabar region (Ekir-land)."] 

For the purpose of embalming the bodies of their dead 
" the Baoule of the Ivory Coast remove the intestines, 
wash them with palm wine or European alcohol, intro- 
duce alcohol and salt into the body cavity, afterwards 
replacing the intestines and stitching up the opening." 
(Clozel and Villamur, quoted by Hartland, 32, p. 418.) 

Scattered around the western shores of the African 
continent there are numerous ethnological features to 
suggest that it has been subjected to the influence of the 
megalithic culture spreading from the Mediterranean. 
But there is no spot in which this influence and its 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 10. 61 

Egyptian derivation is more definitely and surely demon- 
strated than in the Canary Islands. 

For the art of embalming was practised there in the 
truly Egyptian fashion ; and it became a matter of some 
interest to discover whether or not the Nigerian customs 
were influenced in any way by the Guanche practices. 

There can be little doubt that the practices on the 
Ivory Coast, to which reference has just been made, were 
either inspired by the Guanches or by the same influence 
which started embalming in the Canary Islands. 

The information we possess in reference to the Canary 
Islands was collected by Bory de Saint Vincent (" Les 
lies Fortunees," 1811, p, 54) and has been summarized 
by many writers, especially Pettigrevv, Haigh and Reutter. 

From Miss Haigh's account (26, p. 112) I make the 
following extracts : 

"When any person died they preserved the body in 
this manner ; first, they carried it to a cave and stretched 
it on a flat stone, opened it and took out the bowels ; 
then twice a day they washed the porous parts of the 
body with salt and water ; afterwards they anointed it 
with a composition of sheep's butter mixed with a powder 
made from the dust of decayed pine trees, and a sort of 
brushwood called " Bressos," together with powdered 
pumice stone, and then dried it in the sun for fifteen 
days .... 

" When the body was thoroughly dried, and had 
become very light, it was wrapped in sheep skins or goat 
skins, girded tight with long leather thongs, and carried 
to one of the sepulchral grottoes, usually situated in the 
most inaccessible parts of the island. 

" The bodies were either upright against the sides of 
the cavern, or side by side upon a kind of scaffolding 



62 ELLIOT SMITH, Distrfaition of Mummification. 

made of branches of juniper, mocan, or other incorruptible 
wood. 

" The knives for opening the body were made of 
sharp pieces of obsidian. 

" In the grotto of Tacoronte was the mummy of an 
old woman dried in the sitting posture like that of the 
Peruvian corpses." 

The mummies were wrapped in reddish goat skin, 
just as the shroud of Egyptian mummies was often of 
red linen. 

From the same article, in which, as the 'above quota- 
tion states, the body was placed upon a stone for the 
purpose of the embalmer's operations, I should like to 
call attention to the following statement of a curious 
custom which is found in the most diverse parts of the 
world, in most cases in association with the practice of 
mummification. 

Tradition says that at his installation the new Mencey 
(or chief of a principality) is required to seat himself on a 
stone, cut in the form of a chair and covered with skins : 
one of his nearest relatives presents him with a sacred 
relic the bone of the right arm of the chief of the 
reigning family (p. 107). I have already (supra) indi- 
cated the significance of this characteristic feature of the 
" heliolithic " culture. 

Reutter (63) gives some additional information in 
reference to Guanche embalming. The incision was made 
in the lower part of the abdomen (in the flank). After 
the body had been treated with a saturated salt solution, 
the viscera were returned to the body. The orifices of 
the nose, mouth and eyes were " stopped with bitumen as 
was the Egyptian practice/' After packing the cavities 
of the body with aromatic plants the body was exposed 
either to the sun, or in a stove, to desiccate it. 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 1O. 63 

During this operation, other embalmers repeatedly 
smeared the body with a kind of ointment, prepared by 
mixing certain fats, with powdered odoriferous plants, 
resin, pumice stone and absorbent substances (p. 139). 

As in Egypt, according to Herodotus and Diodorus, 
and my own observations have verified their account, at 
any rate so far as its chief feature is concerned there 
was another method of embalming in which no abdominal 
incision was made, unless it was per rectum. 

When this cheaper method was employed the corpse 
was dried in the sun and some corrosive liquid, called 
" cedria " in the case of the Egyptians, but in that of the 
Guanches supposed by Dr. Parcelly to be Euphorbia 
juice, was injected for the purpose of dissolving the 
intestines and thus facilitating the process of preservation 
by removing the chief seat of decomposition. 

[It is important to recall the fact, to which I have 
already referred in this account, that in the islands of the 
Torres Straits also the same two alternative methods of 
evisceration, either through a flank incision or per rectum 
were in use.] 

Most mummies, wrapped in goat skins, were buried 
in caves. But those of kings and princes were placed in 
coffins cut out of a solid log, and buried (head north) in 
the open, a monument of pyramidal form being erected 
above them. 

It is important to bear in mind that both in East and 
West Africa and in the Canary Islands the technical pro- 
cedures in the practice of mummification are those which 
were not adopted in Egypt until the time of the XX 1st 
Dynasty. I have already called attention to this fact in 
my references to the Torres Straits mummies (vide supra], 
and to the inference that these extensive migrations of 
Egyptian influence could not have begun before the ninth 
century B.C. 



64 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

(For more complete bibliographical references, see 
Pettigrew, 56, p. 233.) 

The large series of identical procedures makes it 
absolutely certain that the method of embalming practised 
in the Canary Islands was derived from Egypt, and not 
earlier than 900 B.C. 

Reutter states (63, p. 137) that " the Carthaginians, as 
the result of long-continued commercial intercourse with 
Egypt, assimilated its civilization even to the extent of 
worshipping certain of the Egyptian gods and of accept- 
ing many of her ideas and beliefs as to a future life." 

" These reasons impelled them to practise the art of 
embalming and to represent the features of the dead 
upon their sarcophagi to enable the soul to refind its 
double." 

" Their burial chambers, for the most part not built 
up, but carved out of the rock, communicated with the 
exterior by a staircase. Above them were built mastabas 
or monuments to be utilised, as amongst the Egyptians, 
as offering-places" (p. 138). 

" Even the inscriptions in the mortuary chambers 
were written in hieroglyphics, and their sarcophagi con- 
tained scarabs inscribed with invocations to the Egyptian 
gods, Ptah, Bes and Ra, &c." 

This reference is sufficient to indicate how the later 
(certainly not earlier than 900 B.C. and probably some 
centuries later) Egyptian practices spread around the 
Mediterranean. 

I do not propose (in the present communication) to 
discuss the influence and the manner of spread of the 
practice of mummification in Europe. Reutter gives cer- 
tain information in reference to this subject. It will 
suffice to say that there is no evidence to show that 
mummification was widely adopted until comparatively 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 10. 65 

late times (New Empire and later) in the Mediterranean ^/ ,/ 
area, although certain effects of the Egyptian practice, A 
such for example as " extended burial," spread abroad 
many centuries earlier, appearing in most, regions during 
the Eneolithic phase. 

The procedures revealed in the Canary Islands bear 
no trace of the influence of Negro Africa to which I have 
called attention (supra] in the Soudan, Uganda, the 
Congo and the Niger. The details of the technique 
suggests the method employed in the XXIst Dynasty; 
and other features seem to point to the conclusion that 
the practice must have reached the Canary Islands from 
the Western Mediterranean through the Straits of Gib- 
raltar, not improbably through Phoenician channels. 

[For a full critical discussion of all the literature 
relating to Egyptian influence in West Africa see Dahse, 
" Ein zweites Goldland Salomos," Zeitsch. f. Ethn., 1911, 
p. i. The mass of evidence collected in this memoir is 
entirely corroborative of the conclusions at which I have 
arrived from the study of mummification.] 

With reference to Babylonia Langdon (32) states : 
" Traces of embalming have not been found, but Herodotus 
says that the Babylonians preserved in honey. But a 
text has been discovered which mentions embalming with 
cedar oil (cited by Meissner, Weiner Zeitsch. f. Kunde 
des Morgenlandes, xii, 1898, p. 61). At any rate em- 
balming is not characteristic of Babylonian burials and 
the custom may be due to Egyptian influence." 

There can, I think, be no doubt whatever as to the 
Egyptian origin of these instances of embalming in 
Babylonia. The mere fact of its sporadic occurrence in 
a country of which it is not characteristic clearly points 
to this conclusion, which is confirmed by the emphasis 
laid upon the use of oil of cedar a definite indication of 



66 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of M 2111 unification. 

the Egyptian practice. The reference of Herodotus to 
the use of honey in Babylonia is also of peculiar interest, 
for it provides us with a connecting link between the 
Mediterranean area and India and Burma. 

The extensive use of honey for the preservation of 
the body among the Greeks, Romans, Jews, and possibly 
also the Egyptians, is indicated by the frequent references 
to the practice in the classics, which have been summarised, 
with numerous quotations, by Pettigrew (56, pp. 85 87). 

The employment of honey suggests the spread of 
Egyptian influence to Babylonia via the Mediterranean 
and Syria, seeing that, so far as is known, such a method 
was used only on the Mediterranean littoral of Egypt, in 
Phoenicia and the yEgean. 

Concerning the use of wax in the process of embalm- 
ing, of which ancient Egyptian mummies, especially of 
the new Empire (86), afford numerous instances, Petti- 
grew (p. 87) remarks : " The body of King Agesilaus 
was enveloped in wax and thus conveyed to Lacedaemon. 
This is confirmed by Cornelius Nepos, and also by 
Plutarch, who ascribe the adoption of wax to the want of 
honey for this purpose. Cicero reports the use of it by 
the Persians." 

In his account of the methods employed by the 
Scythians (living north of Thrace) for mummifying their 
kings, Herodotus tells us that the body was coated with 
wax, the abdomen opened, cleaned out and then filled 
with pounded stems, with perfumes, aniseed and wild 
celery seed and then stitched up. The important bearing 
of the practices described in the Black Sea littoral upon 
Indian and Burmese customs (vide infra) I must reserve 
for discussion at some later time. 

It will be seen in the subsequent account that honey 
was in use for embalming in modern times in Burma. 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 10. 67 

In an article on Persian burial customs (32, p. 505) 
Dr. Louis H. Gray says : " Unfortunately our sole infor- 
mation on this subject [Ancient Persian rites] must thus 
far be gleaned from the meagre statements of the classics. 
If we may judge from the tombs of the Achaemenians, 
their bodies were not exposed as Zoroastrianism dictated ; 
but it is by no means impossible that they were coated 
with wax, or even, as Jackson 13 also suggests ("Persia, 
Past and Present/' p. 235), 'perhaps embalmed after the 
manner of the Egyptians/ " 

In later times the Persians seem to have been in- 
fluenced by the practices in vogue in Early Christian times 
in Egypt, before the coming of Islam. Thus in Moll's 
History (46, p. 545), the statement is made in reference to 
the Moslem burial customs in Persia; "if it [the corpse] 
is to be buried a great way off, it is put into a wooden 
coffin filled up with salt, lime and perfumes to preserve 
it ; for they embalm their dead bodies no otherwise in 
Persia, nor do they ever embowel them, as with us." 
That this is merely a degraded form of the Egyptian 
embalmer's practice is shown by the fact that it is 
identical with the method used by the Copts in Egypt 
until the seventh, or perhaps even as late as the ninth 
century A.D., and in their case we know that it is a 
development from, or degradation of, the ancient practice. 

13 Jackson refers the suggestion to Curzon's " Persia and the Persian 
Question/' 1892, where I find (Vol. II., pp. 74, 79, 80, 146, 178 and 192) 
most conclusive evidence in proof of the fact that the body of Cyrus was 
mummified and all the Egyptian rites were observed (see especially Mr. Cecil 
Smith's note on p. 80). In Persia, under Darius (p. 182), the Egyptian 
methods of tomb-construction were closely copied, not only in their general 
plan, but in minute details of their decoration (see p. 178) also the bas-relief 
of Cyrus wearing the Egyptian crown (p. 74). Cambyses even introduced 
Egyptian workmen to carry out such work (p. 192). 

There are reasons for believing that India also was in turn influenced by 
this direct transmission of Egyptian practices to Persia, but only after (per- 
haps more than a century after) the Ethiopian modification of Egyptian 
embalming had been adopted there. 



68 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

This method seems also to have spread to India : for 
Mr. Crooke tells me that even at the present day several 
of the ascetic orders bury their dead in salt. 

In Moll's book the following curious statement also 
occurs, p. 474 : " Mummy , which is human flesh embalm'd 
that has lain in dry earth several ages, and become hard 
as horn, is frequently found in the sands of Chorassan, or 
the ancient Bactria, and some of the bodies are so little 
alter'd, 'tis said, that the features may be plainly 
distinguished." t 

In studying the easterly migration of the custom of 
mummification it is quite certain that the main stream of 
the wanderers who carried the knowledge to the east 
^J must have set out from the East African coast, because 
a whole series of modifications of the Egyptian method 
which were introduced in the Soudan and further south 
are also found in Indonesia, Polynesia and America. A 
curious feature of Egyptian embalming in the XlXth and 
especially the XX 1st Dynasties (78 and 86) was the use 
of butter for packing the mummy. Among the Baganda, 
according to Roscoe, special importance came to be 
attached to this practice. Mr. Crooke has given me refer- 
ences from Indian literature (see especially Journ. Anthr. 
Soc. Bombay, Vol. I., 1886, p. 39) to bodies being " skilfully 
embalmed with heavenly drugs ax\&ghee n [clarified butter]. 

The ancient Aryans used to disembowel the corpse 
and fill the cavity with ghee (Mitra, " Indo-Aryans," 
London, 1881, Vol. I., p. 135), as was done in the case of 
the mummy of the famous Pharaoh Meneptah (86). 

The peculiarly Mediterranean modifications also spread 
east and it seems most likely that in this case the route 
from Syria down the Euphrates to the Persian Gulf was 
taken. 

[Since this has been in print further investigation has 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 10. 

elucidated with remarkable precision the ways and means 
of, as well as the impelling motives for, the great migra- 
tion to the East. This calls for some modification of the 
foregoing (as well as many of the subsequent) paragraphs. 
It has been seen that the great wave of culture carried^ 
east and west from Egypt the distinctive method of 
embalming that came into full use somewhere about 00 
B.C. ; hence it is probable the eighth century B.C. witnessed 
the commencement of the series of expeditions, which 
probably extended over many centuries. It can be no 
mere chance that the period indicated coincides with the 
time when the Phoenicians were embarking upon mari- 
time enterprises on a much greater and more daring scale 
than the world had known until then, in the Mediterranean 
and Atlantic, in the Red Sea and beyond. In the course 
of their trading expeditions to the Bab-el-Mandeb these 
Levantine mariners brought to that region a fuller know- 
ledge of the customs agd practices of Egypt and of the 
whole Phoenician world in the Mediterranean. It was 
probably in this way and not by the Euphrates route that \ 
the culture of the Levant reached the Persian Gulf and .^ 
India. *^ 

The easterly migration of culture which set out from 
the region of the Bab-el-Mandeb conveyed not only the 
Ethiopian modifications of Egyptian practices, but also 
the Egyptian and Mediterranean contributions which the 
Phoenicians had brought to Ethiopia. On some future 
occasion I shall discuss the important part played by the 
Phoenicians in these expeditions to the Far East] 

It is unfortunate that practically nothing is known of 
the practice of mummification on the Southern coast of 
Arabia. Bent tells us that the Southern Arabians 
preserved their dead. Moreover, as the Egyptians 
obtained from Sabaea much of the materials used for 




7O ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

embalming, it is not unlikely that the Arabs may also 
have learned the use of these preservatives. 

In support of this suggestion I might refer to the 
evidence from Madagascar. It is well known that this 
island was colonised in ancient times by people from the 
neighbourhood of the Bab-el-Mandeb, probably Galla- 
people from the Somali coast as well as Sabaeans from 
the Arabian coast, possibly ferried along the African 
shore by expert mariners from Oman and the Persian 
Gulf, either the Phoenicians themselves or their kinsmen. 
A more numerous element came from the distant Malay 
Archipelago. Either or both of these racial elements 
may have introduced the practice of mummification into 
Madagascar. 

In his " History on Madagascar " (1838, Vol. I, p. 243) 
Ellis says there " was no regular embalming," but the 
"body was preserved for a time by the use of large 
quantities of gum benzoin, or other powdered aromatic 
gums." This method is strongly suggestive of South 
Arabian influence. 

Hartland says " the Betsileo [and other Madagascar 
tribes] dry the corpse in the air, the fluids being assisted 
to escape" (32, p. 418). 

Grandidier, however, gives us more precise informa- 
tion on this subject (" La Mort et les Funerailles a 
Madagascar," L? Anthropologie, T. 23, 1912, p. 329). 
According to him the Betsileo open the body of the 
dead and remove all the viscera, which they throw into a 
lake : among the Merina the entrails are removed only 
in the cases of their sovereigns or members of the royal 
family. 

The practice of mummification amongst the Betsileo 
is of peculiar interest because the embalmed bodies are 
buried in stone tombs obviously inspired by Egyptian 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 10. 71 

models. The. subterranean megalithic burial chamber in 
association with an oblong mastaba-\& superstructure 
at once recalls the distinctive features of the Egyptian 
tomb. But there is a curious feature suggestive of 
Babylonian influence, namely, the situation of the temple 
of offerings on the top of the mastaba. In some respects 
this type of grave recalls those found in the Bahrein 
Islands by Bent (4), which he compares with the Early 
Phoenician tombs at Arvad (55). There can be no 
question that the latter were copied from Theban tombs 
of the New Empire (vide supra). 

This seems to point quite clearly to the fact that the 
Betsileo burial practices were inspired by Egyptian 
models, possibly modified by Southern Arabian influences. 

In Hall's " Great Zimbabwe" (1905, pp. 94 and 95), 
it is stated that "the Baduma, who live in Gutu's country, 
and also the Barotse, still embalm, or, rather, dry the 
bodies of their chiefs, and also the dead of certain 
families, though generally the bodies are buried length- 
ways on their right side, facing the sun. " The body is 
placed in the hut on a bier made of poles near a large 
fire, and continually turned untfl the body is dry. Then 
it is wrapped up in a blanket and hung from the roof " 
[as is done in the Dore Bay region in New Guinea]. 

There has been considerable controversy as to the 
origin of the vast stone monuments in this region. The 
writer from whom I have just quoted, with many others, 
believed the Zimbabwe ruins to be the work of Early 
Sabaean or Phoenician immigrants, who were attracted 
by the Rhodesian gold-fields. Randall-Maclver believed 
that he found Chinese and Persian relics (no earlier than 
the I4th or at earliest 131!! century) under the founda- 
tions ; and recklessly jumped to the conclusion that the 
local Negroes had conceived and built these vast monu- 



72 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

ments ! The idea of any savage people, and especially 
Negroes, planning such structures and undertaking the 
enormous labour of their construction is surely too 
ludicrous to be considered seriously. Even if these monu- 
ments were built no earlier than five or six centuries ago, 
that does not invalidate the hypothesis that they were 
inspired by the models of some old civilization. Is it 
necessary to expound the whole theory of survivals to 
make this point clear ? The whole of this memoir is 
concerned with the persistence in outlying corners of the 
world of strange practices whose inventors passed away 
twenty-eight centuries and more ago, and whose country 
has forgotten them and their works for more than a 
thousand years. [My friend, W. J. Ferry, is collecting 
other evidence which proves quite definitely that the 
Zimbabwe culture was " heliolithic."] 

In Moll's History (46) the following passage occurs 
in an account of the customs of Ceylon, p. 430, " when a 
person of condition dies his corps is laid out and wash'd, 
and being cover'd with a linnen-cloath, is carried out 
upon a bier to some high place and burnt : but if he was 
an officer who belong'd to the court, the corps is not 
burnt till the king gives orders for it, which is sometimes 
a great while after. In this case his friends hollow the 
body of a tree, and having bowell'd and embalm'd the 
corps, they put it in, filling the hollow up with pepper, 
and having made it as close as possible, they bury the 
corpse in some room of the house till the king orders it 
to be burnt." 

"As for the poorer people, they usually wrap them 
up in mats and bury them." 

This traveller's tale would hot call for serious attention 
if it were not confirmed by modern accounts of an 
analogous practice in Burma and the neighbourhood. 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 10. 73 

In his "Himalayan Journal" Sir Joseph Hooker 
described how the Khasias temporarily embalm their 
dead in honey before cremating them. 

Pettigrew (56, p. 245) quotes Captain, Coke's account 
of the embalming of a Burman priest. The body, as 
witnessed by him, was lying exposed to public view upon 
a stage constructed of bamboos. This is the bier which 
is so invariably associated with mummification. 

" The entrails of the deceased (who had been dead 
upwards of a month) had been taken out a few hours 
after death by means of an incision in the stomach, and 
the vacuum being filled with honey and spices the opening 
was sewed up. The whole body was then covered over 
with a slight coating of resinous substance called dhamma, 
and wax, to preserve it from the air, after which it was 
richly overlaid with gold leaf, thus giving the body the 
appearance of one of the finely moulded images so 
common in the temples of the worshippers of BOODH." 

Then it was cremated. 

This is a curious instance of the blending of the 
custom of mummification with the later practice of cre- 
mation, which was inspired by entirely different ideals. 
Throughout the whole area in which Egyptian methods 
of embalming were adopted there are found numerous 
instances of such syncretism with a variety of burial customs. 

"Another method which I have known to be practised, 
but not as common as the one above detailed, of em- 
balming bodies in the Burman country, is by forcing two 
hollow bamboos through the soles of the feet, up the legs 
and into the body of the deceased ; then by dint of 
pressing and squeezing the fluid is carried off through the 
bamboos into the ground." 

This practice is an important link between the 
Egyptian and the Indonesian methods. 



74 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

In his article on Thibetan burial customs (32, p. 511), 
Waddell informs us that preservation of the entire body 
by embalming seems to be restricted to the sovereign 
Grand Lamas of Lhasa and Tashilhumpo. The body is 
embalmed by salting, and, clad in the robes of the 
deceased and surrounded by his personal implements of 
worship, is placed, in the attitude of a seated Buddha, 
within a gilded copper sarcophagus in one of the rooms 
of the palace : it is then worshipped as a divinity." 

There are many points of interest in this practice, 
which, considered in conjunction with the methods 
practised, in Burma, Ceylon and Persia just mentioned, 
clearly indicate not only the sources and the routes taken 
by this knowledge of embalming in its spread from 
Egypt, but also how the burial rites of a variety of 
peoples can become intimately blended and intermingled 
one with another. 

In Captain T. H. Lewins' book on "The Wild Tribes 
of South-Eastern India" (London, 1870, p. 274) I find the 
following statement : " Among the Dhun and Khorn 
clans the body is placed in a coffin made of a hollow tree 
trunk, with holes in the bottom. This is placed on a lofty 
platform and left to dry in the sun. The dried body is 
afterwards rammed into an earthern vase and buried ; 
the head is cut off and preserved. Another clan sheathe 
their dead in pith ; the corpse is then placed on a plat- 
form, under which a slow fire is kept up until the body is 
dried. The corpse is then kept for six months .... it is 
then buried. The Howlong clan hang the body up to the 
house-beams for seven days, during which time the dead 
man's wife has to sit underneath spinning." 

These interesting records are of considerable value in 
establishing connexions between East Africa and regions 
further east, which will be discussed in the following pages. 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 10. 75 

[In my search for information concerning the practice 
of embalming in India, where by inference I was convinced 
it must have had some vogue in ancient times, I com- 
pletely overlooked the important memoir by Mr. W. 
Crooke on " Primitive Rites of Disposal of the Dead, with 
Special Reference to India" (Journ. Anthrop. Imt., Vol. 
XXIX., 1899, p. 272). Since the rest of this article has 
been in print Mr. Crooke has kindly called my attention 
to his memoir and given me a lot of other valuable in- 
formation. Fortunately all this evidence supports and 
substantiates the opinions I had previously arrived at 
inductively. For it provides a complete series of con- 
necting links between the western and eastern portions 
of the chain I am reconstructing. It is too bulky to insert 
here and too important merely to summarise, so that I 
must postpone fuller discussion of this Indian evidence 
until some future time.] 

If it is admitted that the custom of mummification as 
it is practised, for example, in the islands of the Torres 
Straits was derived from Egypt, however remotely and 
indirectly, it is clear that, as the technique includes a 
number of curious features which were not introduced in x/ 
Egypt before the XVIIIth, XXth and XX 1st Dynasties 
(respectively in the case of different procedures), the mi- 
gration of people carrying the methods east could not 
have left Egypt before the time of the XX 1st Dynasty, 
say 900 B.C. as the earliest possible date. At this time 
Egypt was in very close relationship with the Soudan 
and Western Asia ; and it is obvious that the Egyptian 
practices may have reached the Persian Gulf by three 
routes: (i) via the Soudan, the headwaters of the Nile 
and the Somali Coast, (2) by the Red Sea route, and (3) 
from the Phoenician Coast down the Euphrates. No 
doubt all three routes served as avenues for communi- 



76 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

cation and for the transmission of cultural influences ; 
and it is not essential for our immediate purposes to 
enquire which channel served to transmit each element 
of Egyptian culture that made its influence felt in the 
neighbourhood of the Persian Gulf at this period. For it 
was a period of active maritime enterprise, especially on 
the part of the Phoenicians, both in the Mediterranean 
and the Southern Seas, and a time when the fluctuating 
political fortunes of Egypt, Western Asia and the Soudan 
produced a more intimate intermingling of the peoples, 
so that they mutually influenced one another most pro- 
foundly. 

It is important to remember that many of the features 
of the embalmer's art as it is practiced in the far East 
are modifications of the Egyptian method which were 
first introduced in the region of the Upper Nile, so that 
the East African Coast must have been the point of 
departure for such methods. Other features, not only of 
the method of embalming, but also of the associated 
megalithic architecture, were equally distinctive of the 
Phoenician region and may have been transmitted by 
the Euphrates. 14 Other features again were distinctively 
Babylonian. Of the former, the African influence, I 
might refer to the use of the frame-like support for the 
mummy, the custom of removing the head some 
months after burial, and the sacrifice of wives and 
servants. As to the Pj>oenician and Babylonian influences, 
the use of honey might be cited, and the emphasis laid 
upon "cedar" wood and "cedar" oil in mummification; 
and the Phoenician adaptation of the New Empire type 
of Theban tomb seen at Arvad and the analogous 

14 See, however, p. 69. At some future time I shall explain what an 
important link is provided by the ancient culture of the Black Sea littoral 
between Egypt and the civilizations of the Western Mediterranean on the 
one hand and India on the other. 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. fix. (1915), No. 1O. 77 

sepulchres found in the Bahrein Islands (4). The Betsileo 
tombs in Madagascar probably represent the same type 
transferred via Sabaea down the East African coast. 

As to the means by which the customs of the dwellers 
around the Persian Gulf were communicated to the 
peoples of India and Ceylon there is a considerable mass 
of evidence. The fact that mummification, the building 
of megalithic monuments of the recognised Mediterranean 
types, sun- and serpent-worship and all the other im- 
pedimenta of the " heliolithic " culture made their 
appearance in India. in pre-Aryan times affords positive 
evidence of the reality of the intercourse. I have already 
referred to the adoption in India of the curiously eccentric 
method of steering river-boats found in Middle Kingdom 
Egyptian tombs ; and the custom of representing eyes on 
the prow of the boat are further illustrations of the spread 
of distinctive practices. According to Rhys Davids 
(14, p. 116) "it may now be accepted as a working 
hypothesis that sea-going merchants [mostly Dravidians, 
not Aryans], availing themselves of the monsoons, were in 
the habit, at the beginning of the seventh (and perhaps at 
the end of the eighth) century B.C., of trading from ports 
on the South-West of India to Babylon, then a great 
mercantile emporium." He adduces evidence which 
clearly demonstrates that the written scripts of India, 
Ceylon and Burma were in this way derived from " the 
pre-Semitic race now called Akkadians." " It seems 
almost impossible to avoid the conclusion that [the] 
curious buildings [at Anuradhapura in Ceylon] were not 
entirely without connection with the seven-storied 
Ziggarats which were so striking a feature among the 
buildings of Chaldaea. ... it would seem that in 
this case also the Indians were borrowers of an idea " 
(p. 70). The more precise and definite influence of 



78 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

Babylonian models further east removes any doubt as to 
the part it played. Crooke speaks of the Southern 
Dravidians as a maritime people, who placed in their 
burial mounds " bronze articles which were probably im- 
ported in the course of trade with Babylonia " (12, p. 29). 
" They were probably the builders of the remarkable 
series of rude stone monuments which crown the hills in 
the Nilgiri range and the plateau of the Deccan " (p. 28). ^ 
The most ancient stone monuments in Southern India 
contain objects which go to prove that they were built at 
the earliest just before the introduction of iron-working. 
Thus, if the knowledge of iron-working came from 
Europe, these monuments could not have been built 
much before 800 B.C. As a matter of fact it is known 
that many of them cannot be older than 600 B.C. 
(Crooke, 13, p. 129). All of these facts agree in 
supporting the view that the influence of Egypt, which, 
so far as the matters under consideration are concerned, 
came into operation not earlier than the eighth century 
B.C., spread to India partly via Babylonia and partly by 
way of East Africa, somewhere between the close of the 
eighth and the commencement of the sixth century B.C. 
The monuments to which I have just been referring 
were not, in my opinion, directly inspired by Egypt, but 
indirectly. The North Syrian and the adjoining territories 
adopted the Egyptian burial customs at an earlier period 
and the finished type of holed dolmen was probably 
developed and survived in that region long after its 
Egyptian prototype had become a thing of the past. 
The real types that have come down to our times are 
found in the Caucasus, between the Black Sea and the 
Caspian. The Indian dolmens were certainly imitations 
of these models. But in respect of other buildings the 
Indians directly adopted Babylonian and Egyptian types. 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 1O. 79 

I have already referred to the former. Many of the 
Dravidian temples are so precisely modelled on the plan 
of the Theban temples of the New Empire that to question 
the source of the inspiration of the former is impossible. ^ 

" Fergusson first called attention to the striking 
similarity in general arrangement and conception between 
the great South Indian temples and those of ancient- 
Egypt. . . . The gopurams or gate-towers, which in 
the later more ornate examples are decorated from the 
base to the summit with sculptures of the Hindu 
Pantheon, increase in size with the size of the walled 
quadrangles, the outer ones becoming imposing land- 
marks, which are visible for miles around, and are 
strikingly similar to the pylons of Egyptian temples " 
(Thurston, 101, pp. 158 and 161). Thus in the matter of 
its early buildings India has clearly been influenced by 
Egypt, Phoenicia and Chaldea ; and this great cultural 
wave impinged upon the Indian peninsula not before 
the close of the eighth century B.C. 

It is important also to remember that it reached 
India just (perhaps not more than a century) before 
another wave of a very different culture poured down 
from the north, and introduced, among other things, the 
practice of cremation. 

For our immediate purpose this is unfortunate, because 
that practice is inspired by ideas utterly opposed to those 
underlying the custom of embalming, and naturally 
destroyed most, though by no means all, traces of the 
latter. That the practice of embalming did actually 
reach India from the west is known not merely because 
evidence of unmistakably Egyptian technique is found 
further east, but also because in India and Ceylon there 
are definite traces of the custom, to which reference 
has already been made in the foregoing pages. Cases 



So ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

from Persia, Ceylon, India, Burma and Thibet were cited 
in proof of the survival of elements of the embalming 
process or ritual, even when the Brahmanical and Buddhist 
burial practices had been adopted . 

From the foregoing account there can be no doubt 
that the people of India did at one time practice mummi- 
fication, at any rate in the case of their chiefs. They 
also acquired a knowledge of the arts and crafts, as the 
result of the influence exerted by the rich stream of 
culture which brought the attainments of the great 
western civilizations to India before the Ayran immigra- 
tion. The bringers of this new culture mingled their 
blood with the aboriginal pre-Dravidian population and 
the result was the Dravidians. It is not at all im- 
probable that the resultant Dravidian civilization had 
reached a higher plane than that of the Aryas, who 
entered the country after them. 

In Oldham's interesting and suggestive brochure 
(51, pp. 53 55), which, in spite of Crooke's drastic 
criticism, seems to me to be a valuable contribution to a 
knowledge of the questions under discussion, the follow- 
ing passages occur : 

" The Asuras, Dasyus, or Nagas, with whom the 
Aryas came into contact, on approaching the borders of 
India, were no savage aboriginal tribes, but a civilized 
people who had cities and castles. Some of these are 
said in the Veda to have been built of stone. 

" It would seem, indeed, as if the Asuras had reached 
a higher degree of civilization than their Aryan rivals. 
Some of their cities were places of considerable im- 
portance. And, in addition to this, wealth and luxury, 
the use of magic, superior architectural skill, and ability 
to restore the dead to life, were ascribed to the Asuras by 
Brahmanical writers." 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No, 10. 81 

The " ability to restore the dead to life " is probably 
a reference to the Egyptian ritual of" the opening of the 
mouth," which of course is an integral part of the funerary 
procedure incidental to the practice of mummification. 

" The Nagas occupy a very prominent position in 
connection with Indian astronomy, and this is not likely 
to have been assigned to them, by their Brahmanical 
rivals, without good reason. Probably this and other 
branches of science were brought, by the Asuras, from 
their ancient home in the countries between the Kaspian 
and the Persian Gulf. t 

" The close relationship between the Indian and the 
Chaldean astronomical systems has been frequently 
noticed. 

" The sun-worship of the Asuras ; their holding sacred 
the Naga or hooded serpent, sometimes represented with 
many heads ; their deification of kings and ancestors ; 
their veneration of the cedar ; their religious dances ; 
their sacrificial rights ; their communication with the 
deities through the medium of inspired prophets ; their 
occasional tendency towards democratic institutions ; 
their use of tribal emblems or totems and many of their 
social customs ; seem to connect them with that very 
early civilization Turanian or otherwise which we find 
amongst so many of the peoples of extreme antiquity. 
They had, in fact, much in common with the early inhabi- 
tants of Babylonia ; and, perhaps, even more with those 
of Elam and the neighbouring countries. 

" We shall see later that the Asuras and the Dra- 
vidians were, apparently, the same people." 

" Not only were the Asuras or Nagas a civilized 
people, but they were a maritime power. Holding both 
banks of the great river Indus, they must have had access 
to the sea from a very early period. Their kinship, too, 



82 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

with the serpent-worshipping people of ancient Media, 
and the neighbouring countries, which has already been 
referred to, must have led to a very early development of 
trade with the Persian Gulf. 

" The Asuras were actively engaged in ' The Churn- 
ing of the Ocean' {Mahabharata, Adi, Astika, p. xviii.), 
which is but an allegorical description of sea-borne com- 
merce in its early days " (pp. cit., p. 58). 

"In the Mahabharata, the ocean is described as the 
habitation of the Nagas and the residence of the Asuras ; 
it is also said to be the refuge of the defeated Asuras 
{Mahabharata, Adi, Astika, p. xxii.). This was no doubt 
because marauding bands of this people retreated to their 
ships after an unsuccessful raid. Thus^we find that on 
the death of Vrita, his followers took refuge in the sea 
(Mahabharata, Vana, Tirthayatra, p. ciii.). So also did 
the Asura Panchajana, who lived in Patala, when he was 
pursued by Krishna {Vishnu Purana, v., xxi., 526). And 
so did the Danavas when defeated by the Devas at 
the churning of the ocean (Mahabharata, Adi, Astika, 

p. xix.)" 

" An ancient legend, given in the Mahabharata, relates 
how Kadru, mother of the serpents, compelled Garuda to 
convey her sons across the sea into a beautiful country in 
a distant region, which was inhabited by Nagas. After 
encountering a violent storm and great heat, the sons of 
Karur were landed in the country of Ramaniaka, on the 
Malabar coast." 

" This territory had been occupied previously by a 
fierce Asura named Lavana (Mahabharata, Adi, Astika, 
p. xxvii.). So there had been a still earlier colonization 
by the same race." 

" Naga chiefs are frequently mentioned as ruling 
countries in or under the sea" (p. 61). 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 1O. 83 

" The civilization of Burmah, and other Indo-Chinese 
countries, is ascribed by legend and by the native his- 
torians to invaders from India. And these are connected 
with the Naga People of Magadha, and pf the north and 
west of India. The ancient navigators, too, who carried 
the Brahmanical and Buddhist religions, the worship of 
the Naga, and the Sanscrit or Pali language to Java, 
Sumatra, and even to distant Celebes, were Indian people. 
And they were, doubtless, descendants of those Asura 
dwellers in the ocean, which are mentioned in the 
Mahabharata, and have already been referred to " (p. 166). 

" Another proof of the ancient connection of these 
islands with India is that the Javan era is the Saka-kala, 
which is so well known, and is still in use in parts of 
Western India and in the Himalaya. According to a 
Javan tradition an expedition from India, led by a son 
of the king of Kujrat (Gujrat), arrived on the west coast 
of the island about A.D. 603. A settlement was founded, 
and the town of Mendan Kamalan was built. Other 
Hindus followed, and a great trade was established with 
the ports of India and other countries (Raffles, Hist. 
Java, ii., 83). There is however no reason to suppose 
that this was the first arrival of Indian voyagers in the 
Archipelago. 

" Traditions still remain in Western India of expedi- 
tions to Java. A Guzerati proverb runs thus : ' He who 
goes to Java never comes back ; but if he does return, 
his descendants, for seven generations, live at ease ' 
(Bombay Gazetter, i., 402). The bards in Marwar have a 
legend that Bhoj raja, the great puar chief of Ujaini, in 
anger drove away his son Chandrabhan, who sailed to 
Java (/#., i., 448). 

" Evidence brought forward by Mr. Kennedy 
(/. R. A. S., April, 1898) shows that a great sea-borne 



84 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of M 211 unification. 

trade was carried on from Indian ports by Dravidian 
merchants as early as the seventh century B.C.. The 
beginnings of Dravidian navigation, however, were 
probably much earlier than this. 

" We have seen that the sea-borne commerce of the 
Solar or Naga tribes of Western India had become 
important at a very early period. Of this the legend of 
' the churning of the ocean ' already referred to is an 
allegorical description, but we have no detailed account 
of ocean voyages until a much later period. Sakya 
Buddha himself, however, refers to such voyages. He 
says : ' Long ago ocean going merchants were wont to 
plunge forth upon the sea, taking with them a shore- 
sighting bird. When the ship was out of sight of land 
they would set the shore-sighting bird free. And it would 
go to the east and to the south and to the west and to 
the north and to the intermediate points and rise aloft. 
If on the horizon it caught sight of land, thither it would 
go. But if not then it would come back to the ship 
again' (Rhys Davids,/. R. A. S., April, 1899, 432). 

" It will be observed that this mode of finding the 
position of the ship at sea, which recalls the sending out 
of the birds from the Ark, is said to have been the custom 
* long ago.' It would seem therefore, that in the fifth . 
century B.C. other and probably more scientific methods 
were in use. It would also appear that the navigation of 
the ocean was even then an ancient institution. 

" In the time of the Chinese Buddhist pilgrim Fah 
Hian (about 406 A.D.) there was a regular and evidently 
old-established trade between India and China and with 
the islands of the Archipelago. 

" Fah Hian sailed from Tamalitti, or Tamralipti, at 
the mouth of the Ganges, in a great merchant ship, and 
in fourteen days reached Ceylon (Fo-Kwo-ki, Beal., i, Ixxi, 



Mane I tester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 10. 85 

Ixxii.). From thence he sailed in a great ship which 
carried about two hundred men, and which was navigated 
by observing the sun, moon and stars. In this ship Fah 
Hian reached Ye-po-ti (probably Java),;in which country 
heretics and Brahmans flourished, but the law of Buddha 
was not much known (/#., i, Ixxx.). Here the pilgrim 
embarked for China on board another ship carrying two 
hundred men, amongst whom were Brahmans. These 
proposed to treat the sramana as Jonah was treated, and 
for the same reason, but some of those on board took his 
part At length when their provisions were nearly 
exhausted, they reached China (/#., i, Ixxxi., Ixxxii.). All 
these ships appear to have been Indian and not Chinese. 

" Fah Hian mentions that pirates were numerous in 
those seas (7#., i, Ixxx.), which shows that the commerce 
must have been considerable" (p. 171). 

" It seems in the highest degree improbable that this 
close connection between the Sun and the serpent could 
have originated, independently, in countries so far apart 
as China and the West of Africa, or India and Peru. 
And it seems scarcely possible that, in addition to this, 
the same forms of worship of these deities, and the same 
ritual, could have arisen, spontaneously, amongst each of 
these far distant peoples. The alternative appears to be 
that- the combined worship of the Sun and serpent-gods 
must have spread from a common centre, by the migra- 
tion of, or communication with, the people who claimed 
Solar descent, 

" So universally was the Naga held sacred, that it 
would seem to have been the earliest totem of the people 
who claimed descent from the Sun-god" (p. 183). 

I have quoted so extensively from Oldham's fascinat- 
ing work because the conclusions at which he arrived 
from a study of the ancient literature of India is confirmed 



86 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

by evidence derived from utterly different sources, not 
only from India itself but also from other countries. For, 
scattered throughout the length and breadth of India, are 
to be found thousands of indications (in traditions, beliefs, 
customs, social organisation and material relics) that the 
complete "heliolithic" culture had reached India not later 
than the beginning of the seventh century B.C. 

Moreover the evidence which I have culled from 
Oldham bears out the conclusions my own investiga- 
tions lead up to, namely, that the "heliolithic" culture 
spread from India to Malaysia soon after it reached India 
itself. It is surely something more than a mere coinci- 
dence that the period of the greatest maritime exploits of 
the Phoenicians, in the course of which, according to many 
authorities, they reached India or even further cast, should 
coincide with that of the great pre- Aryan maritime race 
of India, whose great expeditions, as the above quotations 
indicate, were primarily for purposes of commerce between 
the Persian Gulf and the West Coast of India. There is 
gradually accumulating a considerable mass of evidence 
to suggest that, if the Asuras were not themselves Phoe- 
nicians, they acquired their maritime skill from these 
famous sailors and traders. The same hardy mariners 
who brought the new knowledge and practices from the 
Persian Gulf to India and Ceylon also carried it further, 
to Burma and Indonesia. 

That this is so is clearly shown by the fact that these 
customs spread to Indonesia and the Pacific before 
cremation was introduced ; and it has been indicated 
above that the introduction of the practice of cremation 
into India may have taken place within a century of the 
arrival of the u heliolithic " civilization there. Hence it 
is obvious that the latter must have spread to the far east 
soon after it reached India ; and the completeness of the 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 10. 87 

transmission of the distinctive culture-complex can be 
explained only by supposing that the same people who 
brought if to India also carried it further east. 

All the other evidence at our disposal is in full 
harmony with this view. The advancing" wave of western 
culture swept past India into Indonesia, carrying into 
the isles of the Pacific and on to the American littoral 
the products of the older civilizations at first almost, 
but not altogether, untainted by Indian influence; but 
for centuries afterwards, as this same ferment gradually 
leavened the vast bulk of India, the stream of western 
culture continued to percolate eastwards and carried with 
it in succession the influence of the Brahmanical, Buddhist 
and, within in a more restricted area, Mahometan cults. 

It is an interesting confirmation of the general 
accuracy of the scheme that has now been sketched out 
that the dates at which the influence of Egypt began to be 
exerted in the east, that to which Rhys Davids assigns the 
definite influencing of India by Babylonia, that at which 
India influenced Malaysia, and finally that assigned by 
students of the Polynesian problem to the inauguration of 
the great Indonesian migration into the Pacific (60 and 98), 
all fit into one consecutive series, though each was 
determined from different kinds of evidence and inde- 
pendently of the rest. 

It is not my intention to discuss the evidence for the 
coming of the " heliolithic " culture to Indonesia, for the 
complex problems of this region have been analysed and 
interpreted in a masterly fashion by W. J. Perry in a 
book which is shortly to be published. The form which 
my present communication has assumed is largely the 
outcome of the reading of Perry's manuscript and of 
discussions with him of the new lines of investigation 
which it suggested ; and I am satisfied to leave this region 



88 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

for him to elucidate in detail. It will suffice to say here 
that the traditions of the inhabitants of the various islands 
of Malaysia, no less than their heterogeneous customs 
and beliefs, provided him with very precise evidence in 
demonstration of the complex constitution of the " helio- 
lithic " culture, and of the fact that it was brought to the 
islands by an immigration from the west. 

There is less need for me to analyse the vast literature 
relating to the burial practices in the islands of the Malay 
Archipelago since this useful service has already been 
accomplished by Hertz (33). Although I dissent from 
the main contention in his interpretation of the facts, his 
accurate record is none the less valuable on that account 
perhaps indeed it is more useful, as it certainly cannot be 
accused of bias in favour of the views I am expounding. 

A great variety of burial customs, in most respects 
closely analogous to the practices of the Naga tribes of 
India, is found in Indonesia ; exposing the dead on trees 
or platforms, burial in hollow trees, smoking and other 
methods of preservation, temporary burial, and cremation. 

Apart from the definite evidence of preservation of 
the dead found in scattered islands from one end of the 
Archipelago to the other, there are much more generally 
diffused practices which are unquestionably derived from 
the former custom of mummification. 

In the account of mummification as practised in the 
more savage African tribes, it was seen that the practice 
was restricted in most cases to the bodies of kings ; and 
even then the failure to preserve the body in a permanent 
manner compelled these peoples to modify the Egyptian 
methods. Realising that the corpse, even when preserved 
as efficiently as they were able to perform the work of 
embalming, would undergo a process of disintegration 
within a few m,onths, it became the practice to rescue the 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 1O. 89 

skull, to which special importance was attached (for the 
definite reasons explained by the early Egyptian evidence). 

In his survey Hertz (33, p. 66) calls attention to the 
widespread custom of temporary burial throughout 
Indonesia, but, instead of recognising that such procedures 
have come into vogue as a degradation of the full rites 
incidental to mummification, he regards it as part of a 
widespread " notion que les derniers rites funeraires ne 
peuvent pas etre celebres de suite apres la mort, mais 
seulement a 1'expiration d'une periode plus on moins 
longue" (p. 66) ; and regards mummification simply as a 
specialised form of this rite which is almost universal 
(p. 67) : " il parait legitime de considerer la momifica- 
tion comme un cas particulier et derive de la sepulture 
provisoire." (p. 69). This is a remarkable inversion of the 
true explanation. For the enormous mass of evidence 
which is now available makes it quite certain that the 
practice of temporary burial was adopted only when 
failure (or the risk of failure) to preserve the body com- 
pelled less cultured people to desist from the complete 
process. 

I am in full agreement with Hertz when he says : 
" L'homologie entre la preservation artificielle du cadavre 
et la simple exposition temporaire paraitra moins difficile 
a admettre si Ton tient compte du fait qui sera mis en 
lumiere plus bas : les ossements sees, residu de la decom- 
position, constituent pour le mort un corps incorruptible, 
absolument comme la momie." (p. 69). But does not this 
entirely bear out my contention ? It is quite inconceivable 
that the practice of mummification could have been 
derived from the custom of preparing the skeleton ; but 
the reverse is quite a natural transition, for even in the 
hands of skilled embalmers (see especially 39^, not to 
mention untutored savage peoples, the measures taken for 



9O ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

preserving the body may fail and the skeleton alone may 
be spared. If this contention be conceded, the demon- 
stration given by Hertz of the remarkable geographical 
distribution of customs of temporary burial affords a most 
valuable confirmation of the general scheme of the present 
communication. " Au point de vue ou nous sommes 
places, il y a homologie rigoureuse entre ^exposition du 
cadavre sur les branches d'un arbre, telle que la pratiquent 
les tribus du centre de 1'Australie, ou a I'interieur de la 
maison des vivants, comme cela se rencontre chez certains 
Papous et chez quelques peuples Bantous, ou sur une 
plateforme elevee a dessein, ainsi que le font en general 
les Polynesians et de nombreuses tribus indiennes de 
I'Amerique du Nerd, ou enfin 1'enterrement provisoire, 
observe en particulier par la plupart des Indians de 
I'Amerique du Sud " (p. 67). There can be no doubt 
whatever of the justice of this " homology," for in every 
one of the areas mentioned these customs exist side by 
side with the practice of mummification ; and in many 
cases there is definite evidence to show that the other 
methods of treatment have been derived from it by a pro- 
cess of degradation. In his excellent bibliography, and 
especially the illuminating footnotes, Hertz gives a number 
of references to the practice cf desiccation by smoking 
or simple forms of embalming which had escaped me in 
my search for information on these matters. He refers 
especially to further instances of such practices in Australia, 
New Guinea, various parts of West Africa, Madagascar 
and America (p. 68). 

An interesting reference in the same note (p. 68, 
footnote 5) is to the practice of simple embalming among 
the Ainos of Sakhalin (Preuss, Begrdbnisarten der Ameri- 
kaver, p. 190). This seems to supply an important link 
between the Eastern Asiatic littoral and the Aleutian 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 1O. 91 

Islands, where mummification is practised. In Saghalien, 
according to St. John ("The Ainos," Journ. Anthropol. 
Inst., Vol. II., 1873, P- 2 53)' "when the chief of a tribe or 
village died, his body was laid out on a table close to the 
door of his hut ; his entrails were then removed, and 
daily for twelve months his wife and daughters wash him 
thoroughly. He is allowed .... to dry in the sun." 

In a recent article on the customs of the people of 
Laos (G. Maupetit, " Moeurs laotiennes," Bull, et Mem. de 
la Soc. cC Anthropol . de Paris, 1913), an account is given 
of the practice of mummification in this far south-eastern 
corner of the Asiatic mainland. Cremation is the regular 
means adopted for disposal of the dead : but it is also 
"the Laotian's ideal to be able to preserve the corpse in 
his house, for as long a time as possible, before incinerating 
it : in the same way the Siamese and Chinese keep their 
dead in the house for several months, often for several 
years" (p. 549). 

According to Maupetit the method of preservation 
is a most remarkable one. They pour from 75 to 300 
grammes of mercury into the mouth ! " It passes along 
the alimentary canal and suffices to produce mummifica- 
tion, the rapid desiccation of the organic tissues." Then 
the body was stretched upon a thick bed of melted wax, 
wood ashes, cloth and cushions. 

The great stream of " heliolithic " culture exerted a 
profound influence upon and played a large part in 
shaping the peculiar civilizations of China, Corea, and 
Japan. As the practice of embalming does not play an 
obtrusive part 15 in this influence, I do not propose (in 
the present communication) to enter upon the discussion 

15 Reutter (63) quotes the statement from Tschirch that Neahof has 
described the embalming of bodies in Asia. In Borneo camphor, areca nut 
and the wood of aloes and musk are used ; and in China camphor and 
sandalwood. 



92 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

of these matters, except to note in passing that the in- 
fluence exerted by the " heliolithic " culture upon the 
Pacific coast of America may have been exerted partly 
by the East Asiatic- Aleutian route (see Map II.). 

The disgusting practice of collecting the fluids which 
drip from the putrefying corpse and mixing them with 
the food for the living occurs in Indonesia, in New 
Guinea and the neighbouring islands, in Melanesia, 
Polynesia and in Madagascar (for the bibliographical 
references see Hertz, p. 83, footnote 3), 

The Indonesian methods of preserving the dead are 
found in Seram (W. J. Perry), and the report recently 
published by Lorenz 16 (43, p 22) records a similar practice 
in the neighbourhood of Dore Bay in North-West New 
Guinea. The corpse was tied to the rafter of the 
dwelling-house ; and the practice of mixing the juices of 
decomposition with the food is in vogue also. The 
accounts given by D'Albertis (I) and other travellers 
show that analogous customs are found at other places in 
New Guinea. There can be no doubt that the practice 
spread along the north coast of the island and then 
around its eastern extremity to reach the islands of the 
Torres Straits, where the practice is seen in its fully 
developed form, as Flower (19), Haddon and Myers (25), 
and Hamlyn-Harris (27) have described. 

As I have already referred to Papuan mummies earlier 
in this communication and at some future time intend to 
devote a special memoir to the full discussion of the 
methods of the Torres Straits embalmers, I shall not go 
into the matter in detail here. I should like, however, 
to call special attention to the admirable account given 
by Haddon and Myers (25) of the associated funeral rites. 

lfi Fur this and certain other references I have to thank my colleague 
Professor S. J. Hickson, F.R.S. So far I have been unable to consult the 
full reports of Lorenz's expedition. 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. //,r. (1915), No. 1O. 93 

In his memoir Flower described two interesting mum- 
mies, then in the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons 
in London, one "brought in 1872 from Darnley Island in 
Torres Strait by Mr. Charles Lemaistre, Captain of the 
French barque ' Victorine,' and the other, an Australian 
mummy, obtained in 1845 near Adelaide, by Sir George 
Grey." By a curious and utterly incomprehensible act 
of vandalism these extremely rare and priceless ethno- 
logical specimens were deliberately destroyed by Sir 
William Flower, who naively explains his extraordinary 
action by the statement "as the skeleton will form a 
more instructive specimen when the dried and decaying 
integuments are removed I have had it cleaned " (p. 393) ! 
He treated in the same manner the second mummy, the 
only example of its kind, so far as I am aware, in this 
country ! His photographs show that these two speci- 
mens, so far from being " decaying," were in a remarkably 
good state of preservation at the time he doomed them 
to destruction. 

Captain Lemaistre found the Torres Strait mummy 
" in its grave, which consisted of a high straw and bamboo 
hut of round form : it was not lying down, but standing 
up on the stretcher" (19, p. 389). This is a close parallel 
to the African customs mummification, burial in a house 
of round form, and fixing the corpse to a rough form of 
funeral bier, which is stood up in the house. 

The skin was painted red, the ccalp black. " The 
sockets of the eyes were filled with a dark brown sub- 
stance, apparently a vegetable gum In this was 

imbedded a narrow oval piece of mother of pearl, pointed 
at each end, in the centre of the anterior surface of which 
is fixed a round mass of the same resinous substance, 
representing the pupil of the eye " (p, 301). 
" Both nostrils had been distended." 






94 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

" In the right flank was a longitudinal incision, 3| 
inches in length, extending between the last rib and the 
crest of the ilium. This had been very neatly closed by 
what is called in surgery the interrupted suture. . . . The 
whole of the pelvic, abdominal and thoracic viscera had 
been removed, and their place was occupied by four 

pieces of very soft wood Except the wound in the 

flank, there was no other opening or injury to the skin " 

(P- 390- 

" Heads and bodies prepared in a similar way " are 

found in many museums, and afford an interesting illus- 
tration of the old Egyptian practice of paying special 
attention to the head. This is all the more instructive in 
view of the fact that it was common in certain regions, 
especially Mallicolo in the New Hebrides, to restore the 
features by means of clay and resinous paste, usually 
making use of the skull as a basis, but occasionally 
modelling the whole body, 17 the model including parts of 
the deceased's skeleton (see Henry Balfour's article, 
" Memorial Heads in the Pitt Rivers Museum," Man, 
Vol. I., 1901, p. 65). These modelling-practices and 
especially the fact that they usually deal with the head 
(or even face) only afford an interesting confirmation of 
the Egyptian origin of these customs (vide supra, etc., 40). 
In the 6th volume of the reports of the Cambridge 
Anthropological Expedition to Torres Straits, C. S. Myers 
and Haddon (25, pp. 129 and 135) give a detailed account 
of the funeral ceremonies from which I quote certain 
points. " As soon as death had occurred the women of 
the village started wailing. The corpse was placed on 
the ground on a mat in front of the house ; the arms were 
placed close to the side ; the great toes were tied together 

1 7 A curious feature of these models is the representation of faces on the 
shoulders. Similar practices have been recorded in America (Bancroft, 3). 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 1O. 95 

by a string ; the hair of the head and face was cut off 
and thrown away ; the length of the nose was then 
measured with a piece of wax, which was preserved by a 
female relative for subsequent use in making a wax mask 
for the prepared skull. The dead man's lx>w and arrow 
and his stone-headed club were laid beside him" (p. 129). 
The Egyptian analogies in all of these procedures is quite 
obvious. 

" Five men wearing masks performed a series of 
manoeuvres ending up with flexion of the arms and a 
bending of the head. This movement was said to indicate 
the rising and setting of the sun and to be symbolic of 
the life and death of man. 

" Mourners then took the body and placed it upon a 
wooden framework, which stood upon four wooden sup- 
ports at a little distance from the house of the deceased. 
The relatives then took large yams and placed them 
beside the body on the framework ; they also hung large 
bunches of bananas upon the bamboos around. This 
was regarded as nourishment for the ghost, which was 
supposed to eat it at night-time (p. 135). 

"In two or three days when the skin of the body had 
become loose the framework was taken up to the reef in 
a small canoe ; the epidermis was then rubbed off and by 
means of a sharp shell a small incision was made in the 
side of the abdomen (in the right side, at least, in the 
case of women), whence the viscera were extracted. 

" The perineum was incised in the males." 

From a study of all the literature regarding this 
custom, as well as the actual specimens now in Sydney 
and Brisbane, it is clear that the incision may be made 
either in the left or right flank or in the perineum, and 
that sex does not determine the site. 

" The abdominal cavity was then filled up with pieces 



96 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

of Nipa palm ; the viscera were thrown into the sea and 
the incision closed by means of fine fish line. An arrow 
was used to remove the brain, partly by way of the 
foramen magnum and partly through a small slit which 
was made in the back of the neck. The ' strong skin ' of 
the brain (the dura mater) was first cut and then the 
' soft skin ' was pulled out. 

" The body was then brought back to the island and 
was placed in a sitting position upon a stone ; the entire 
body was then painted with a mixture of red earth and 
sea water. The head, body and limbs were then lashed 
to the framework with string and a small stick was 
affixed to the lower jaw to keep it from drooping. The 
framework, with its burden, was fastened vertically to two 
posts set up in the rear of the house, and it was protected 
from public view by a screen of coconut leaves. The 
body was then gently rubbed down and holes were made 
with the point of an arrow so that the juices might 
escape. A fire was always kept alight beneath the body, 
' by-n-by meat swell up' (p. 136). 

" D'Albertis (i) saw in Darnley Island the mummy 
of a man, who had been dead over a year, standing in the 
middle of the widow's house attached to a kind of upright 
ladder of poles. They tint him from time to time with 
red chalk (ochre) and keep his skin soft by anointing it 
with coconut oil" (p. 137). 

In the Berlin Museum fiir Volkerkunde there are 
mummies of two children, photographs of which, obtained 
from Professor von Luschan, are reproduced by Dr. 
Haddon. They were given to Dr. Bastian by the Rev. 
James Chamlers in 1880, having been obtained at 
Stephen's Island. One of them is a small girl a few days 
old. The body is painted red all over, except the scalp 
and eyebrows, which are blackened. The other one was 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 1O. 97 

a small girl two or three years of age treated in a similar 
way ; the incision for embalming is on the left side and 
has been sewn up. 

" In 1845 Jukes saw on the lap of a woman of Darnley 
Island the body of a child a few months old which seemed 
to have been dead for some time. It was stretched on a 
framework of sticks and smeared over with a thick red 
pigment, which dressing she was engaged in renewing. 
("Voyage of the 'Fly,'" Vol. I., 1847, p. 246)" (p. 

138). 

" Macgillivray (" Voyage of the ' Rattlesnake,' " Vol. 
II., 1852, p. 48) also refers to a mummy of a child in 
Darnley Island. Sketches of the two Miriam mummies 
in the Brisbane Museum will be found on Plate 94 of 
Edge Partington and Heape's Ethnographical Album of 
the Pacific Islands, third series. [Compare also Plate 2, 
Figure 4, in Brockett's "Voyage to Torres Straits," 
Sydney, 1836] "(p. 137). 

u On about the tenth day after death, when the hands 
and feet have become partially dried, the relatives, using 
a bamboo knife, remove the skin of the palms and soles,, 
together with the nails, and then cut out the tongue, 
which is put into a bamboo clamp so that it may be kept 
straight while drying. These were presented to the 
widow, who henceforth wore them" (p. 138). 

A great deal of further information in regard to this 
practice is given by Haddon and Myers in their impor- 
tant monograph. Among other things they call attention 
once more to the custom of preserving the skull in the 
Torres Straits Islands where mummification is practised. 
The use of masks and ceremonial dances to assist the 
performers so as the more realistically to play the part 
of the deceased is welcome confirmation of the conclusion 
drawn from geographical distribution that such practices 



98 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

were intimately related to mummification and form part 
of the ritual genetically linked to it. 

Dr. Hamlyn-Harris, the Director of the Queensland 
Museum, gives an account (27) of the two mummies from 
the Torres Straits, which are now in Brisbane ; and he 
adds further interesting information which he obtained 
from Mr. J. S. Bruce, of Murray Island, who was also one 
of Dr. Hacldon's informants. During my recent visit to 
Australia Dr. Hamlyn-Harris very kindly gave me every 
facility for examining these two mummies (as well as the 
Australian mummies in the Queensland Museum) ; and I 
also examined another specimen in the Macleay Museum 
of the University of Sydney. I am preparing a full report 
on all of these interesting specimens. 

From the Torres Straits the practice of mummification 
spread to Australia, as Flower (19), Frazer (22), Howitt 
(see Hertz, 33), Roth (71) and Hamlyn-Harris (28), among 
others, have described. Roth says " Desiccation is a form 
of disposal of the dead practised only in the case of very 
distinguished men. After being disembowelled and dried 
by fire the corpse is tied up and carried about for months." 
(71, p. 393). The mummy was painted with red ochre 
(Fraser, 22). 

In Roth's photographs, as well as in the mummies 
which I have had the opportunity of examining, the 
embalming-incision was made in the characteristically 
Egyptian situation in the left flank. In one of the 
mummies in the Brisbane Museum (see 28, plate 6) the 
head is severely damaged. Examination of the speci- 
men indicates that incisions had been deliberately made. 
Perhaps it was an attempt to remove the brain, which 
ended in destruction of the cranium. 

A curious feature of Australian embalming is that the 
body was always flexed, and not extended as in the Torres 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 10. 99 

Straits. At first I was inclined to believe that this may 
be due to the influence of the Early Egyptian (Second 
Dynasty) procedure (89), but a fuller consideration of the 
evidence leads me to the conclusion that the adoption 
of the flexed position is due to syncretism with local 
burial customs, which were being observed when the 
bringers of the " heliolithic " culture reached Australia. 
It is probable that the boomerang came from Egypt, via 
East Africa, India (12) and Indonesia at the same time. 

Several curious burial customs which may be regarded 
as degradations of the practice of mummification occur in 
Australia, but the consideration of these I must defer for 
the present. 

In the discussion on Flower's memoir (19), Hyde 
Clarke justly emphasized " the importance of the demon- 
strations in reference to their bearings on the connection 
of the Australian populations with those of the main con- 
tinents, and in the influence exerted in Australasia at a 
former time by a more highly cultivated race. This, to 
his mind, was the explanation of the relations of the 
higher culture, whether with regard to language, marriage 
and kindred, weapon names, or modes of culture, such as 
the mummies now described, the modes of incision, and 
form of burial. He did not consider these institutions, 
as some great authorities did, indigenous in Australia " 

(19, P- 394)- 

Corroborative evidence is now accumulating (70), 
which will definitely establish the reality of the influence 
thus adumbrated by Clarke 37 years ago. 

Frazer (22, p. 80) says the burial (in Australia) on a 
raised stage reminds him of the " towers of silence," and 
adds : " This novelty of a raised stage can scarcely be a 
thing which our blacks have invented for themselves 
since they came to Australia ; and if it is a custom which 



IOO ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

some portion of their ancestors brought with them into 
this country, I would argue from it that these ancestors 
were once in contact with, or rather formed part of, a 
race which had beliefs similar to those of the Persians ; 
such beliefs are not readily adopted by strangers ; they 
belong to a race." Frazer proceeds to contrast this 
practice with the other Australian custom of desiccation, 
which, he says, " corresponds to the Egyptian practice of 
mummification " (p. 8 1) : but, as Hertz (33 et supra] has 
pointed out, they were inspired by the same fundamental 
idea, however much the present practitioners of the two 
methods may fail to realize this in their beliefs and 
traditions. The interesting suggestion emerges from 
these considerations that the peculiar Persian burial cus- 
toms may be essentially a degraded and profoundly 
modified form of the ancient Egyptian funerary rites. 

In his "Polynesian Researches" William Ellis (15) 
gives an interesting, though unfortunately too brief, 
account of the Tahitian practice of embalming. Among 
the poor and middle classes " methods of preservation 
were too expensive " to be used, but the body was " placed 
upon a sort of bier covered with the best native cloth " 
while awaiting burial (p. 399). 

"The bodies of the dead, among the chiefs, were, 
however, in general preserved above ground : a temporary 
house or shed was erected for them, and they were placed 
on a kind of bier . . . sometimes the moisture of the body 
was removed by pressing the different parts, drying it in 
the sun, and anointing it with fragrant oils. At other 
times, the intestines, brains, etcetera were removed : all 
moisture was extracted from the body, which was fixed in 
a sitting position during the day, and exposed to the sun, 
and, when placed horizontally at night was frequently 
turned over, that it might not remain long on the same 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (19-15), No. 10. JOi 



side. The inside was then filled with cloth saturated with 
perfumed oils, which were also injected into other parts of 
the body, and carefully rubbed over the outside every 
day" (pp. 400 and 401). 

V 

" It was then clothed, and fixed in a sitting posture ; 
a small altar was erected before it, and offerings of fruit, 
food and flowers, were daily presented by the relatives, or 
the priests appointed to attend the body. In this state it 
was preserved several months, and when it decayed, the 
skull was carefully kept by the family, while the other 
bones etc. were buried within the precincts of the family 
temple" (p. 401). 

Ellis makes the significant comment: " It is singular 
that the practice of preserving the bodies of their dead by 
the process of embalming, which has been thought to 
indicate a high degree of civilization, and which was 
carried to such perfection by one of the most celebrated 
nations of antiquity, some thousand years ago, should be 
found to prevail among this people." The whole of the 
circumstances attending the practice of this custom, and 
the curious ritual and the behaviour of the mourners, as 
described by Ellis, no less than the details of the process, 
in fact afford the most positive evidence of its derivation 
from Egypt. 

Ellis says " it is also practiced by other distant nations 
of the Pacific, and on some of the coasts washed by its 
waters." " In some of the islands they dried the bodies, 
and, wrapping them in numerous folds of cloth, suspended 
them from the roofs of their dwelling-houses" (p. 406). 

Ellis notes the remarkable points of identity between 
the Tahitian account of the deluge and not only the 
Hebrew but also those of the Mexicans and Peruvians 
and many other peoples (p. 394). 

In Glaumont's summary (24, p. 517) five modes of 



IO2 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

burial are described as being practised in New Caledonia. 
The first is burial in the flexed position ; 2nd, extended 
burial in caves ; 3rd, exposure of the body in trees or on 
the mountains ; 4th, mummification ; 5th, the body erect 
or reposing in a dug-out canoe. With regard to the 
method of embalming, this is practised only in the case 
of a chief. The body of a chief soon after death was 
covered with pricks into which were introduced the juices 
of certain plants with the object of preventing decompo- 
sition of the tissues. Afterwards the body was suitably 
dried or smoked, then it was dressed in its best clothes, 
its face painted red and black, and then the body was 
preserved indefinitely. A hole was made at the top of 
the hut, and by means of this they haul up the mummy. 
After it has been exposed in this way for a certain time, 
the body was withdrawn from the hole into the house, 
which was then carefully shut up and became taboo with 
all that it contained. Analogous customs are found in 
New Zealand and elsewhere in Oceania. A singularly 
strange custom is now in use in the New Hebrides and 
in the Solomon Islands. The father and son, for example, 
or the husband and wife, having just died, they smoke 
the head alone as in New Zealand, but they make (with 
bamboo covered with cloth) a mannikin, having roughly 
the human form ; then they tattoo the whole of the sur- 
face ; fastened upon each shoulder and this is the 
strange part of it is a piece of bamboo, to one of which 
they attach the father's head and the other that of his 
son. [The account is not altogether intelligible here.] 
The heads are painted white and black. With reference 
to the placing of the body in a canoe, this is reserved for 
chiefs only. When a chief dies, messengers go in all 
directions, repeating "The sun is set." This expression 
springs from the idea that the chief is a god, the supreme 
Sun -god. 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 1O. 103 

These procedures afford a remarkably complete series 
of links with the " heliolithic " cult as practised elsewhere 
in the west and east. The account of the curious attach- 
ment of the heads to the shoulders of the dummy figure 
throw some light upon the custom (to" which I have 
referred elsewhere in this communication) in Mallicolo 
(6l, p. 138) and in America of representing human faces 
on the shoulders of such models. It is a remarkable fact 
that in certain of the Mallicolo figures the phallus is 
fixed to the girdle in a very curious manner, exactly 
analogous to that recently described and figured by 
Blackman from an Egyptian tomb of the Middle King- 
dom at Meir. 

Embalming was a method rarely employed in New 
Zealand. 

" After the extraction of the softer parts, oil or salt 
was rubbed into the flesh, and the body was dried in the 
sun or over a fire ; then the mummy was wrapped in 
cloth and hidden away." 

" In some parts of New Zealand the skeletons of 
mummified bodies are found in the crouching or sitting 
posture" (Macmillan Brown, 7, P- 70). 

In Schmidt's Jahrbilcher der gesammten Medicin, 1890, 
Bd. 226, p. 175, there is an abstract of an article on Samoa 
by P. Burzen in which, among other things, the three 
Egyptian operations of circumcision, massage and mum- 
mification are described as being practiced. 

The embalming is done by women. After removing 
the viscera, which are buried or burnt, the eviscerated 
corpse is then soaked for two months in coco-nut oil, 
mixed with vegetable juices. When the body is fully 
treated and no more fluid escapes from it, the hair which 
had previously been cut off, is 'stuck on again with a 
resinous paste. The body cavity is packed with cloth 



IO4 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

soaked in vegetable oil and resinous materials : then the 
mummy is wrapped up with bandages, the head and hands 
being left exposed. 

The body so prepared is put in a special place where 
it is preserved indefinitely. 

" In Pitcairn Island 1,400 miles due west of Easter 
Island carved stone pillars or images of a somewhat similar 
character to those of Easter Island" are found (Enoch, 
16, p. 274). 

"Another 1,400 miles to the north-west takes us to 
Tahiti. The natives of Tahiti buried their chiefs in temples ; 
their embalmed bodies, after being exposed, were interred 
in a couching position. Mention is made of a pyramidal 
stone structure, on which were the actual altars, which 
stood at the farther end of one of the squares." 

"There are many close analogies between the sacri- 
ficial practices and those of Mexico" (p. 275). 

In their extensive migrations the carriers of the 
" heliolithic " culture took with them the custom of cir- 
cumcision, and introduced it into most of the regions 
where their influence spread. In some of the areas 
affected by the "heliolithic" leaven the more primitive 
operation of " incision " is found. This consists not of 
removing the prepuce, but merely slitting up its dorsal 
aspect (69, p. 432). It was the method employed in 
Egypt in pre-dynastic times, when it was the custom to 
hide the phallus in a leather sheath suspended from a 
rope tied round the body. The practice of " incision " 
and the use of the pudendal sheath persists in some parts 
of Africa until the present day (see Journ. Roy. AntJiropol. 
Instit., 1913, p. 120). 

Rivers claims that " the practice of incision arose in 
Oceania as a modification of circumcision " (69, p. 436) : 
but I think the possibility of it having been introduced 



v 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 1O. 105 

from the west along with or before the practice of circum- 
cision needs to be considered. 

Another remarkable practice which probably formed 
part of the equipment of the heliolithic wanderers was 
massage. It was employed by the Egyptians as early as 
the Sixth Dynasty, as we know from the representations 
of the operations in a Sakkara niastaba (Capart, II). 
Piorry (57) has given an account of the wide range of the 
practice of massage, from Egypt to India, China and 
Tahiti, and the high state of efficiency attained in its use 
in ancient times in India and China. The Chinese manu- 
script Kong-Fau contained detailed accounts of the 
operation. Piorry remarks, " it is clear that for us its 
development did not originate from the practices des- 
cribed in the books of Cong-tzee or the compilation of 
Susrata." 

From Rivers' interesting account of massage in Mela- 
nesia (67) it is evident that the method must have an origin 
common to it and the modern European practice, and 
that it could not have arisen amongst a barbarous people 
like the Melanesians, who have the most extraordinary 
conceptions as to why and how it serves a therapeutic 
purpose. Although we have no evidence to prove that 
massage spread along with the heliolithic culture, the fact 
that it has a similar geographical distribution, and cer- 
tainly was extensively practised in Egypt long before 
the great migration began, suggests that it may represent 
another Egyptian element of that remarkable cultur s e- 
complex. 

In his masterly analysis of the cultures of Oceania (69) 
Rivers has given a useful summary of the evidence rela- 
ting to the practice of preserving the body, and has drawn 
certain inferences from these and other burial practices, 
which I propose to examine. " In some cases, as in 



106 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

Tikopia, interment takes place either in the house or 
within a structure representing a house, while in Tonga and 
Samoa the bodies of chiefs are interred in vaults built of 
stone. Often the body is buried in a canoe or in a hollowed 
log of wood, which represents a canoe " (69, p. 269). From 
the evidence to which reference has been made in the 
course of the present memoir it is unnecessary to insist at 
any length on the importance and obvious significance 
of these facts. But I question the inference Rivers draws 
(p. 270) from the burial in boats. He says "the practice 
can be regarded as a result of the fact of migration, and 
does not show that the use of a canoe was the practice ot 
the immigrants in their original home." The practice is 
so wide-spread, however, and in Egypt and elsewhere had 
such a deep-rooted significance that it is difficult to believe 
this custom was not brought by the immigrants with them. 
I am willing to admit that the special circumstances of the 
people of Oceania naturally emphasized what may be 
called the " boat-element " in the funerary ritual ; but the 
association of the use of boats with burial is so curious 
and constant a feature of the " heliolithic " culture where- 
ever it manifests itself (vide supra) as hardly to have 
arisen independently in different parts of the area of 
distribution. 

" A second mode or treatment is preservation of the 
body, either in the house or on a stage often covered with 
a roof. Some kind of mummification is usually practised 
in these cases, by continual rubbing with oil, drying by 
means of a fire, and puncture of the body to hasten the 
disappearance of the products of decomposition." 

" In some parts of Samoa there is a definite process of 
embalming in which the viscera are removed and buried. 
A body thus treated lies on a platform resting upon a 
double canoe, and in many other places a canoe is used 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No . 1O- 107 

as a receptacle for the body while it is undergoing the 
process of mummification " (p. 269). This association of 
the use of a canoe with a method of preservation 
obviously Egyptian in origin naturally provokes com- 
parison with the use of boats in the Egyptian funeraj^ 
ceremonies. An instance is the boat found in the tomb 
of Amenophis II. (8l). The platform is probably a type 
of bed found elsewhere in the region under consideration 
(see, for instance, Roth's account of the Queensland 
sleeping-platform) and represents the bier found so often 
elsewhere (vide supra}. This is in no way inconsistent 
with Rivers' view that " exposure of the dead on plat- 
forms is only a survival of preservation in a house " 

(P- 273)- 

Earlier in this memoir I have explained why the 
Egyptians came to attach special importance to the head, 
and how the less cultured people of Africa, when faced 
with the difficulties of preserving the body, saved the 
skull (or in some cases the jaw). When it is recalled how 
widespread this custom is in other parts of the "heliolithic 
area," and how deep-rooted were the ideas which prompted 
so curious a procedure, Rivers' independent inference in 
regard to this matter is fully confirmed. " Many practices 
become intelligible as elements of a single culture if we 
suppose that a people imbued with the necessity for the 
preservation of the body after death acquired .... the 
further idea that the skull is the representative of the 
body as a whole ; if they came to believe that the purpose 
for which they had hitherto preserved the body could be 
fulfilled as well if the head only were kept" (p. 273). This 
is unquestionably true: but I dissent from Rivers' qualifi- 
cation that this modification happened "perhaps in the 
course of their wanderings towards Oceania," because it 
has already been seen that it had occurred before the 



io8 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

wanderers set out from the East African coast. There 
is, of course, the possibility that Africa may have been 
influenced by a cultural reflux from Indonesia, such as 
has been demonstrated in the case of Madagascar ; but 
there are reasons for believing that the facts under con- 
sideration cannot be explained in this way. 

In thus venturing upon criticisms of Rivers' great 
monograph I should like especially to emphasize the fact 
that these comments do not refer in any way to his attack 
on the "orthodox" ethnological position. On the con- 
trary, the views that I am setting forth in this communica- 
tion represent a further extension of Rivers' own attitude 
that the Oceanic cultures have been derived mainly from 
contacts with other peoples. A series of practices which 
he has hesitated to recognise as having been introduced, 
but inclined to regard as local developments, I hold to 
be part of the immigrant culture. The use of boats for 
burial, the custom of regarding the head as an efficient 
representative of the whole body and the practice of 
"incision " as well as circumcision (69, p. 432) are examples 
of customs, which he regards as local developments in the 
Pacific : but all three are equally distinctive of Ancient 
Egypt and occur at widely separated localities along the 
great " heliolithic " track. The linking-up of sun-worship 
with all the other elements of the "heliolithic cult" also 
compels me to question his limitation of such worship to 
certain regions only in Oceania (69, p. 549) ; even though 
I fully admit that the data used by Rivers are not sufficient 
to justify any further inference than he has drawn from 
them. 

My aim is then, not an attempt to weaken Rivers' 
general attitude, but enormously to strengthen it, by 
demonstrating that each culture-complex was brought 
into the Pacific in an even more complete form than 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 1O. 109 

he had postulated. Nor does my criticism affect his 
hypothesis of a series of cultural waves into Oceania. 
Here, again, I am prepared to go not only the whole way 
with him, but even further, and to seek for additional 
cultural influences which he has not yet defined. 

Most modern writers who refer in any way to the\ 
preserved bodies which have been found in vast numbers 
in Peru and in other parts of America assume that these 
bodies have been preserved not by embalming or any 
other artificial method or mode of treatment, but simply 
as the result of desiccation by the unaided forces of 
nature. Although in the great majority of cases there are 
no obvious signs of any artificial means having been em- 
ployed to preserve the bodies, yet a not inconsiderable 
number of examples have come to light to demonstrate 
the reality of the practice of mummification in America 
(3* 37 : 58: 63: and 106). Yarrow's classical mono- 
graph (106) established the reality of the practice of 
embalming in America quite conclusively. Moreover the 
fact that practically every item of the multitude of 
curiously distinctive practices found widespread in other 
parts of the world, in the most intimate association with 
methods of embalming certainly inspired by Egypt, puts 
it beyond all reasonable doubt that the variety of American 
practices for preserving the body is also to be attributed 
to the same source. 

In his book on the "History of the Conquest of Peru," 
Prescott makes the following statement : " When an 
Inca died (or, to use his own language, was called home 
to the mansion of his father, the Sun) his obsequies were 
celebrated with great pomp and solemnity. The bowels 
were taken from the body 'and deposited in the Temple of 
Tampu, about five leagues from the capital. A quantity 
of his plate and jewels was buried with him, and a number 



1 10 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification: 

of his attendants and favourite concubines, amounting 

o 

sometimes, it is said, to a thousand, were immolated on 
his tomb .... 

"The body of the deceased Inca was skilfully em- 
balmed and removed to the great Temple of the Sun at 
Cuzco. There the Peruvian sovereign on entering the 
awful sanctuary might behold the effigies of his royal 
ancestors, ranged in opposite files the men on the right 
and their queens on the left of the great luminary which 
blazed in refulgent gold on the walls of the temple. The 
bodies, clothed in princely attire which they had been 
accustomed to wear, were placed on chairs of gold, and 
sat with their heads inclined downwards, their hands 
placidly crossed over their bosoms, their countenances 
exhibiting their natural dusky hue less liable to change 
than the fresher colouring of a European complexion 
and their hair of raven black, or silvered over with age, 
according to the period at which they died. It seemed 
like a company of solemn worshippers fixed in devotion, 
so true were the forms and lineaments to life. The Peru- 
vians were as successful as the Egyptians in the miserable 
attempt to perpetuate the existence of the body beyond 
the limits assigned to it by nature. [Note. Ondegardo, 
Rel. Prim., MS- Garcilasso, Com. Real., parte i., lib. v., 
cap. xxix. The Peruvians secreted their mummies of 
their sovereigns after the Conquest, that they might not 
be profaned by the insults of the Spaniards. Ondegardo, 
when corregidor of Cuzco, discovered five of them, three 
males and two females. The former were the bodies of 
Viracocha, of the great Tupac, Inca Yupanqui, and of his 
son, Huayna Cupac. Garcilasso saw them in 1650. They 
were dressed in their regal robes, with no insignia but the 
llautu on their heads. They were in a sitting position, 
and, to use his own expression, ' perfect as life, without so 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 1O. in 

much as a hair of an eyebrow wanting.' As they were 
carried through the streets, decently shrouded with a 
mantle, the Indians threw themselves on their knees, in 
sign of reverence, with many tears and groans, and were 
still more touched as they beheld some of the Spaniards 
themselves doffing their caps in token of respect to 
departed royalty. (Ibid, ubi supra.} The bodies were 
subsequently removed to Lima ; and Father Acosta, who 
saw them there some twenty years later, speaks of them 
as still in perfect preservation]" (58, pp. 19 and 20). 

Later on in the same work Prescott, relying again 
on the somewhat, questionable authority of Garcilasso's 
works, makes a statement which in some respects may 
seem to be at variance with what I have just quoted : 

u It was this belief in the resurrection of the body 
which led them to preserve the body with so much solici- 
tude by a simple process, however, that unlike the 
elaborate embalming of the Egyptians, consisted in ex- 
posing it to the action of the cold, exceedingly dry and 
highly rarified atmosphere of the mountains. [Note. 
Such indeed seems to be the opinion of Garcilasso, though 
some writers speak of resinous and other applications for 
embalming the body. The appearance of the royal 
mummies found at Cuzco, as reported both by Ondegardo 
and Garcilasso, makes it probable that no foreign sub- 
stance was employed for their preservation.] As they 
believed that the occupations in_ the future world would 
have great resemblance to those of the present, they 
buried with the deceased noble some of his apparel, his 
utensils, and frequently his treasures ; and completed the 
gloomy ceremony by sacrificing his wives and favourite 
domestics to bear him company and do him service in 
the happy regions beyond the clouds. Vast mounds of 
an irregular or more frequently oblong shape, penetrated 



112 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

by galleries running at right angles to each other were 
raised over the dead, whose dried bodies or mummies 
have been found in considerable numbers, sometimes 
erect, but more often in the sitting posture common to 
the Indian tribes of both continents" (p. 54). 

In the light of the information concerning the practices 
in other parts of the world, which I have collected in the 
present memoir, there can be no doubt of the substantial 
accuracy of these reports, and that they refer to real 
embalming and not to mere natural desiccation. 

Hrdlicka has adduced positive evidence of the adop- 
tion of embalming procedures (37). 

In his report, "Culture of the Ancient Pueblos of the 
Upper Gila River Region, New Mexico and Arizona," 
Walter Hough (36) publishes excellent photographs of 
two mummies of babies, but he gives no information as to 
the method of preservation. 

There are four Peruvian mummies in the Anatomical 
Museum in the University of Manchester, three of which 
are adults, and one of them a baby. In only one of them 
is there any positive evidence of artificial measures having 
been adopted for the preservation of the body, and in 
this case the condition of the mummy was a most amaz- 
ing one. The body was clad in woollen garments in the 
usual way, and was wearing a woollen peaked cap, the 
apex of which was furnished with a bunch of feathers. 
The body was placed in a sitting position, and a large 
wound extending across the trunk had been covered with 
cloth strongly impregnated with resinous material. The 
legs were sharply flexed upon the body and the arms 
were bound up in front. But to my intense amazement I 
found the shoulder blades on the front of the chest, and 
on examination found that the thorax was turned back 
to front. As the head was already separate there was 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 1O. 113 

nothing to show what position it originally occupied ; and 
it seemed impossible to explain how it had been possible 
to twist the vertebral column in the lumbar region as to 
bring the thorax back to front. In order to solve this 
mystery I removed the resin-impregnat'ed cloth, which 
was firmly fixed to the abdominal wound, and found that 
the body had been cut right across the abdomen and 
packed with wool after the viscera had been removed. 
Then the abdomen and thorax had been stuck together 
by means of the broad strip of cloth with resinous paste 
as an adhesive. But for some reason which is not very 
apparent, or probably through mere carelessness, the 
thorax had been placed the wrong way round, and it had 
become necessary, in order to restore some semblance of 
life-like appearance to the monstrosity, forcibly to twist 
the arms at the shoulder joints in order to get them into 
the position above described. [Since this was written I 
have learned that in certain American tribes it is the 
custom to dress the corpse with a coat turned back to 
front. This seems to suggest that the curious procedure 
just described may have been dictated by the same under- 
lying idea, whatever it may be.] In the cranium of this case 
the remains of the desiccated brain were still present, and 
although there was a quantity of brownish powder along 
with it, the evidence was not sufficiently definite to say 
whether or not any foreign material had been introduced 
into the cranial cavity. In the case of the other three \ 
bodies, as I have already mentioned, there was no evidence,, 
apart from the excellent state of preservation, to suggest / 
what measures had been taken to hinder the process of / 
decomposition. 

In his account of the obsequies of the Aztec kings, 
Bancroft (3, Vol. II., p. 603) tells us that "the body was 
washed with aromatic water, extracted chiefly from trefoil, 



.114 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Muv unification. 

and occasionally a process of embalming was resorted to. 
The bowels were taken out and replaced by aromatic 
substances." " The art was an ancient one, however, 
dating from the Toltecs as usual, yet generally known 
and practised throughout the whole country" (p. 604). 
He then proceeds to describe " a curious mode of pre- 
serving bodies used by the lord of Chalco," which con- 
sisted of desiccation ; and adds a singularly interesting 
reference to libations, not only curiously reminiscent of 
the ancient Egyptian practice, but also described in 
language which might be regarded as a paraphrase of the 
Pyramid text expounded by Blackman (5). " Water was 
then poured upon its [the mummy's] head with these 
vr words : ' this is the water which thou usedst in this 
world ' Brasseur de Bourbourg uses the expression 
' C'est cette eau que tu as recue en venant au monde ' ' 
(Bancroft, 3, Vol. II., p. 604). 

It is altogether inconceivable that such a curious 
practice, embodying so remarkable an idea, could by 
chance have been invented independently in Egypt and 
in America. This can be no mere coincidence, but proof 
of the most definite kind of the derivation of these Toltec 
and Aztec ideas from Egypt. 

Bancroft further describes (3, p. 604 et seq.) a whole 
series of other ritual observances, many cf which find 
close parallels in the scenes depicted in the royal 
Egyptian tombs of the New Empire. 

I have already referred to Tylor's case (102) of the 
adoption in toto by the Aztecs of the Japanese Buddhist's 
story of the soul's wanderings in the spirit-land. In the 
case recorded by Bancroft almost the same story is 
reproduced, but with the characteristic Egyptian additions 
relating to parts of the way guarded by a gigantic snake 
and an alligator respectively [in the Egyptian ritual it is 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 1O. 115 

of course the Crocodile ; see Budge, " The Egyptian 
Heaven and Hell," Vol. i, p. 159]. This is a most re- 
markable example of syncretism between the Egyptian 
ritual of the New Empire with Buddhist practices on the 
distant shores of America. 

As the connecting link between the Old and New 
World, it may be noted that in Oceania " everywhere is 
the belief that the soul after death must undertake a 
journey, beset with various perils, to the abode of departed 
spirits, which is usually represented as lying towards the 
west" (6l, p. 138). 

Reutter (63) gives a summary of information relating 
to the practice of embalming in the New World and par- 
ticularly amongst the Incas. The custom of preserving 
the body was not general in every case, for amongst 
certain peoples only the bodies of kings and chiefs were 
embalmed. The Indian tribes of Virginia, of North Caro- 
lina, the Congarees of South Carolina, the Indians of the 
North-West Coast, of Central America and those of Florida 
practised this custom as well as the Incas. In Florida the v 
body was dried before a big fire, then it was clothed in 
rich materials and afterwards it was placed in a special 
niche in a cave where the relatives and friends used to 
come on special days and converse with the deceased. 
According to Beverley (1722) the tribes of Virginia 
practised embalming in the following way: The skin 
was incised from the head to the feet and the viscera as 
well as the soft parts of the body were removed. To 
prevent the skin from drying up and becoming brittle oil 
and other fatty materials were applied to it. In Kentucky 
when the body had been dried and filled with fine sand it 
was wrapped in skins or in matting and buried either in a 
cave or in a hut. In Colombia the inhabitants of Darien 
used to remove the viscera*and fill the body cavity with 



Ii6 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

resin, afterwards they smoked the body and preserved it 
in their houses reposing either in a hammock or in a 
wooden coffin. The Muiscas, the Aleutians, the inhabi- 
tants of Yucatan and Chiapa also embalmed the bodies of 
their kings, of their chiefs, and of their priests by methods 
similar to those just described, with modifications varying 
from tribe to tribe. Reutter acknowledges as the source of 
most of his information the memoirs of Bauwenns, entitled 
"Inhumation et Cremation," and Parcelly, " Etude His- 
torique et Critique des Embaumements"; but most of it 
has clearly been obtained from Yarrow's great monograph 
(106). Alone amongst the people of the New World who 
practised embalming the Incas employed it not only for 
their kings, chiefs and priests, but also for the population 
in general. These people were not confined to Peru, but 
dwelt also in Bolivia, in Equador, as well as in a part of 
Chili and of the Argentine. Mummified bodies were 
placed in monuments called Chullpas. According to De 
Morcoy these Chullpas were constructed of unbaked brick 
and were sometimes built in the form of a truncated pyra- 
mid, twenty to thirty feet high, in other cases simple mau- 
solea of a simple monolith. The burial chamber inside 
them was square and as many as a dozen mummies might 
be buried in a single one. The bodies were sharply flexed 
and were placed in a sitting position. An interesting and 
curious fact about these mummies, or at any rate those 
from Upper Peru, was that all of them presented on the 
forehead or on the occiput a circle composed of small 
holes through the wall of the cranium, which had probably 
been used for evacuating the brain and for the introduction 
of preservative substances. 

Yarrow (106) refers to the fact that the Indians of the 
North-West coast and the Aleutian Islands also embalm 
their dead. This, like the practice of tattooing (Buckland, 



Mane/tester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 1O. 117 

10), serves to map out the possible alternative northern 
route taken by the spread of culture from Asia to America 
(vide supra the account of Aino embalming ; also Map //.). 

In his account of the Araucanos of Southern Chile 
(fourn. Roy. Anthr. hist., Vol. 39, iQC^'p. 364) Latcham 
describes how, when a person of importance dies of disease, 
these people believe that some one must have poisoned 
him. They " open the side of the deceased " and extract 
the gall-bladder, so as to obtain from the bile contained 
in it some clue as to the guilty person. "The corpse is 
then hung in a wicker frame and under it a fire is kept 
smouldering till such time as the perpetrator be found 
and punished." 

This confused jumble of practices suggestive of a 
blending of the influences of Egyptian embalming and 
Babylonian hepatoscopy is also obviously linked to the 
customs of Oceania and Indonesia. 

Scattered in certain protected localities along the 
whole extent of the great " heliolithic " track the ancient 
Egyptian [also Chaldean and Indian] practice of burial in 
large urns or jars occurs. In America also it is found; 
but, according to Yarrow, it is restricted to certain people 
of New Mexico and California, although similar urns have 
been found in Nicaragua. 

After the coming of the first great "heliolithic" wave, 
Asiatic civilization did not cease to influence America. 

There are innumerable signs of the later effects of 
both Western and Eastern Asiatic developments. For 
instance, there is the coming of the practice of cremation. 
The fact that such burial customs are spread sporadically 
in the islands of the Pacific suggests that the custom may 
have been carried to America by the same route as the 
main stream of the " heliolithic " cult ; but against this is 
the evidence that cremation was practised especially on 



llS ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

the Pacific slope of the Rocky Mountains, and in Mexico 
rather than in Peru. It seems more probable that the main 
stream of the later wave of culture, of which cremation is 
the most distinctive practice, took the northern route 
skirting the eastern Asiatic littoral and then following the 
line of the Aleutian Islands: 

In the account of the method of mummification 
adopted by the Virginian Indians (supra} it was seen that 
the whole skin was removed and afterwards fitted on to 
the skeleton again. Great care and skill had to be used 
to prevent the skin shrinking. Apparently the difficulties 
of this procedure led certain Indian tribes to give up the 
attempt to prevent the skin shrinking. Thus the Jivaro 
Indians of Ecuador, as well as certain tribes in the western 
Amazon area, make a practice of preserving the head 
only, and, after removing the skull, allowing the softer 
tissues to shrink to a size not much bigger than a cricket 
ball (44; 52, p. 252, and 6l, p. 288). 

According to Page (52), who has described one of the 
two Jivaro specimens now in the Manchester Museum, 
desiccation by heat was the method of preservation. He 
adds, "' Momea ' and * Chancha ' are the names commonly 
given to such specimens by the natives." Surely the 
former must be a Spanish importation ! 

A comparison of this variety in the methods of pre- 
serving the body in America with the series of similar 
practices which I have been following from the African 
shore, makes it abundantly plain that there can be no 
doubt as to the source of the American inspiration to do 
such extraordinary things. The remarkable burial ritual 
and all the associated procedures afford strong corrobora- 
tive evidence. 

But the proof of the influence of the civilizations of 
the Old World on pre-Columbian America does not 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. !ix. (1915), No. 1O. 119 

depend upon the evidence of one set of practices, how- 
ever complex, bizarre and distinctive they may be. 

The positive demonstration that I have endeavoured X 
to build up in this communication depends upon the fact 
that the whole of the complex structure oTthe "heliolithic" 
culture, which was slowly built up in Egypt during the 
course of the thirty centuries before 900 B.C., spread 
to the east, acquiring on its way accretions from the 
civilizations of the Mediterranean, Western Asia, Eastern 
Africa, India, Eastern Asia and Indonesia and Oceania, 
until it reached America. Like a potent ferment it 
gradually began to leaven the vast and widespread 
aboriginal culture of the Americas. 

The rude megalithic architecture of America bears < 
obvious evidences of the same inspiration which prompted 
that of the Old World ; and so far as the more sumptuous 
edifices are concerned the primary stimulus of Egyptian 
ideas, profoundly modified by Babylonian, and to a less 
extent Indian and Eastern Asiatic, influences is indubi- 
table. Comparison of the truncated pyramids of America, 
of the Pacific, Eastern Asia and Indonesia with those of 
ancient Chaldea, affords quite definite corroboration of 
these views. It would be idle to pretend that so complex 
a design and so strange a symbolism as the combination 
of the sun's disc with the serpent and the greatly expanded 
wings of a hawk, carved upon the lintel of the door of a 
temple of the sun, could possibly have developed inde- 
pendently in Ancient Egypt and in Mexico (see especially 
Bancroft, 3, Vol. IV., p. 351). 

But it is not merely the designs of the buildings and 
their association with the practice of mummification (and 
later, in Mexico, with cremation;, but the nature of the 
cult of the temples and all the traditions associated with 
them that add further corroboration. Thus, for example, 



I2O ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

Wake (103, p. 383), describing the geographical distribu- 
tion of serpent-worship (the intimate bond of which with 
sun-worship and in fact the whole " heliolithic " cult was 
forged in Egypt, as I have already explained), writes : 
** Quetzalcoatl, the divine benefactor of the Mexicans, 
was an incarnation of the serpent-sun Tonacatlcoatl, who 
thus became the great father, as the female serpent Cihua- 
coatl was the great mother, of the human race." " The 
solar character of the serpent-god appears to be placed 
beyond all doubt . . . The kings and priests of ancient 
peoples claimed this divine origin, and ' children of the^ 
sun ' was the title of the members of the sacred caste. 
When the actual ancestral character of the deity is hidden 
he is regarded as 'the father of his people' and their 
divine benefactor. He is the introducer of agriculture, 
the inventor of arts and sciences, and the civilizer of 
mankind." 

Writing of the Maya empire, Bancroft (3,* Vol. V., 
p. 233) says : "The Plumed Serpent, known in different 
tongues as Quelzalcoatl, Gucumatz, and Cukulcan, was 
the being who traditionally founded the new order of 
things." 

Even the most trivial features of the " heliolithic " 
culture-complex make their appearance in America. 
Thus, for example, Harrison tells us that : 

"The artificial enlargement of the lobe [of the ear] 
appears originally to have been adopted in India for the 
purpose of receiving a solar disc" (29, p. 193). 

" The early Spanish historian mentioned that an 
elaborate religious ceremony took place in the temple of 
the Sun at Cuzco, on the occasion of boring the ears of 
the young Peruvian nobles " (p. 196). 

"The practice of enlarging the car lobes was con- 
nected with Sun-worship" (p. 198). 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (191 5), No. 10. 121 

So also in the case of circumcision, tattooing, and 
almost every one of the curious customs I have enumer- 
ated in the foregoing account. Then, again, all the 
characteristic stories of the creation, the deluge, the 
petrifaction of human beings and of spirits dwelling in 
rocks, and of the origin of the chosen people from an 
incestuous union make their appearance in Mexico, Peru 
and elsewhere. 

The peculiar Swastika symbol, associated with the 
"heliolithic" cult by pure chance in the place of its origin, 
which the people of Timor, in Indonesia, regard as the 
ancient emblem of fire, the Son of the Sun, also appears 
in America. ^ 

Even so bizarre a practice as the artificial deformation 
of the head (48, pp. 515 to 519), which seems to have 
originated in Armenia, became added to the repertoire 
of the fantastic collection of tricks of the " heliolithic " 
wanderers, and was adopted sporadically by numerous 
isolated groups of people along the great migration route. 
For some reason this strange idea " caught on " in America 
to a greater extent than elsewhere and spread far and 
wide throughout the greater part of the continent. 

Many other curious customs might be cited as straws 
that indicate clearly which way the stream of culture has 
flowed. For instance Keane (42, p. 264) states that " like 
the Burmese the Nicobarese place a piece of money in 
the mouth of a corpse before burial to help it in the other 
world"; and Hutchinson (38, p. 448) supplies the link 
across the Pacific : " Men, women and children [in 
ancient Peru] had frequently a bit of copper between the 
teeth, like the obolus which the pagan Romans used to 
place in the mouth to pay ferry to the boatman Charon^ 
for passage across the Styx." 

This reference to Charon reminds us also of the wide- 



122 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

spread custom, apparently originating in Egypt and 
spread far and wide, right out into the Pacific and America, 
of the association of a boat with the funerary ritual, to 
ferry the mummy to the west. 

Certain distinctive aspects of phallism in America 
might also be mentioned as evidence of the influence of 
Old World practices. 

In the appendix (part i) to his " Conquest of Mexico," 
Prescott (59) summarises fully and fairly the large and 
highly suggestive mass of evidence available at the time 
when he wrote in favour of the view that the pre-Colum- 
bian civilization of Mexico and Peru had been inspired 
from Asia. In view of the apparent conclusiveness of 
his statement of the evidence it becomes a matter of some 
interest and importance to enquire into the reasons which, 
in the face of the apparently overwhelming testimony of 
the facts he has summarised, restrained him from adopting 
the obvious conclusion to which his whole argument 
points. 

Referring to the numerous islands of the Pacific as- 
one means of access of population to America, Prescott 
quotes Cook's voyages to illustrate how easily the Poly- 
nesians travelled from island to island hundreds of miles 
apart, and adds, " it would be strange if these wandering 
barks should not sometimes have been intercepted by the 
great continent, which stretches across the globe, in un- 
broken continuity, almost from pole to pole. 

" Whence did the refinement of these more polished 
races [of America] come? Was it only a higher develop- 
ment of the same Indian character, which we see, in the 
more northern latitudes, defying every attempt at per- 
manent civilization ? Was it engrafted on a race of 
higher order in the scale originally, but self-instructed, 
working its way upward by its own powers? Was it, in 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 1O- 123 

short, an indigenous civilization ? or was it borrowed, in 
some degree, from the nations of the Eastern world? If 
indigenous, how are we to explain the singular coincidence 
with the East in institutions and opinions? If Oriental, 
how shall we account for the great Dissimilarity in 
language, and for the ignorance of some of the most 
simple and useful arts, which, once known, it would seem 
scarcely possible should have been forgotten ? This is 
the riddle of the Sphinx, which no CEdipus has yet had 
the ingenuity to solve." 

In the light of the facts brought together in the 
present memoir, it requires no CEdipus to answer the 
riddle. For the only two objections which Prescott raises 
in opposition to the great mass of evidence he cites in 
favour of the derivation of American civilization from the 
Old World can easily be disposed of. Rivers has com- 
pletely disposed of one by his demonstration of the fact 
that people moreover those on the direct route across 
the Pacific to America do actually "forget simple and 
useful arts " (65) The other objection is equally easily 
disposed of, when it is remembered that it requires only 
a few people of higher culture to leaven a large mass 
of lower culture with the elements of a higher civilization 
(see also on this point, Rivers, 68). Moreover, if language 
is made a test, the affinities of the various American 
tribes one with the other would have to be denied. Thus, 
the language difficulty cuts both ways. But when we 
have disposed of his objections, the whole of his 
admirable summary then becomes valid as an argument 
in favour of the derivation of American culture from 
Asia across the Pacific. 

Since then it has become the fashion on the part of 
most ethnologists either contemptuously to put aside the 
probability or even the possibility of the derivation of 



124 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution vf Mummification. 

American civilization from the Old World (characteristic 
examples of this attitude will be found in Fewkes' address, 
18, and Keane's text-book, 41). On the other side the 
discussion has been seriously compromised from time to 
time by a wholly uncritical and often recklessly inexact 
use of the evidence in support of the reality of the con- 
tact, which has to some extent prejudiced the serious 
discussion of the problem. Perhaps the least objection- 
able of such unfortunate attempts are Macmillan Brown's 
(7) and Enoch's books (i6). The former has been led 
astray by grotesque errors in chronology and the failure 
to realize that useful arts can be lost. Enoch, on the 
other hand, has collected a large series of interesting but 
incompatible statements, and has made no serious attempt 
to sift or assimilate them. 

But from time to time serious students, proceeding 
with the caution befitting the discussion of so difficult 
a problem, have definitely expressed their adherence to 
the view that elements of culture did spread across, or 
around, the Pacific from Asia to America (8 ; 9; 10; 15; 
20 ; 21 ; 29 : 30 ; 38 ; 48 ; 49 ; 50 ; 51 ; 60 ; 73 ; 102 ; 103 
and 105). Among modern demonstrations I would 
especially call attention to the evidence collected by Dall 
(73> P- 395), Cyrus Thomas (73, p. 396), Tylor (102) and 
Zelia Nuttall (49 and 50), and of the older literature the 
remarkable statement of Ellis (15, p. 117). [In Mrs. 
Nuttall's monograph (49) there is a great deal, especially in 
the introductory part, to which serious objection must be 
taken : but in spite of the strong bias in favour of 
" psychological explanation " with which she started, 
eventually she was compelled to admit the force of the 
evidence for the spread of culture.] 

For detailed statements concerning the discussions 
of this problem in the past the reader is referred to 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 1O. 125 

Bancroft's excellent summary (3), which also supplies a 
wonderfully rich storehouse of facts and traditions wholly 
corroborative of the conclusions at which I have arrived 
in the present memoir. 

I find it difficult to conceive how tnere could ever 
have been any doubt about the matter on the part of 
anyone who knows his " Bancroft." 

It will naturally be asked, if the case in proof of the 
actual diffusion of culture from Asia to America is so 
overwhelmingly convincing, on what grounds is assent 
refused ? One school (of which the most characteristic 
utterance that I know of is Fewkes' presidential address, 
18) refuses to discuss the evidence : with pontifical solem- 
nity it lays down the dogma of independent evolution 
as an infallible principle which it is almost sacrilege to 
question. I can best illustrate the methods of the other 
school of reactionaries by a sample of its dialectic. 

No single incident in the discussion of the origin of 
American civilization has given rise to greater consterna- 
tion in the ranks of the "orthodox" ethnologists than 
Tylor's statement (102) : 

" The conception of weighing in a spiritual balance in 
the judgment of the dead, which makes its earliest appear- 
ance in the Egyptian religion, was traced thence into a 
series of variants, serving to draw lines of intercourse 
through the Vedic and Zoroastrian religions, extending 
from Eastern Buddhism to Western Christendom. The 
associated doctrine of the Bridge of the Dead, which 
separates the good, who pass over, from the wicked, who 
fall into the abyss, appears first in ancient Persian religion, 
reaching in like manner to the extremities of Asia and 
Europe, By these mythical beliefs historical ties are 
practically constituted, connecting the great religions of 
the world, and serving as lines along which their inter- 



126 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

dependence is to be followed out. Evidence of the same 
kind was brought forward in support of the theory, not 
sufficiently recognised by writers on culture history, of the 
Asiatic influences under which the pre-Columbian culture 
of America took shape. In the religion of old Mexico 
four great scenes in the journey of the soul in the land of 
the dead are mentioned by early Spanish writers after 
the conquest, and are depicted in a group in the Aztec 
picture-writing known as the Vatican Codex. The four 
scenes are, first, the crossing of the river ; second, the 
fearful passage of the soul between the two mountains 
which clash together ; third, the soul's climbing up the 
mountain set with sharp obsidian knives ; fourth, the 
dangers of the wind carrying such knives on its blast. 
The Mexican pictures of these four scenes were compared 
with more or less closely corresponding pictures repre- 
senting scenes from the Buddhist hells or purgatories as 
depicted on Japanese temple scrolls. Here, first, the 
river of death is shown, where the souls wade across ; 
second, the souls have to pass between two huge iron 
mountains, which are pushed together by two demons ; 
third, the guilty souls climb the mountain of knives, whose 
blades cut their hands and feet ; fourth, fierce blasts of 
wind drive against their lacerated forms, the blades of 
knives flying through the air. It was argued that the 
appearance of analogues so close and complex of Buddhist 
ideas in Mexico constituted a correspondence of so high 
an order as to preclude any explanation except direct 
transmission from one religion to another. The writer, 
referring also to Humboldt's argument from the calendars 
and mythic catastrophes in Mexico and Asia, and to the 
correspondence in Bronze Age work and in games in 
both regions, expressed the opinion that on these cumu- 
lative proofs anthropologists might well feel justified in 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 10. 127 

treating the nations of America as having reached their 
level of culture under Asiatic influence." 

One might have imagined that such an instance, 
especially when backed with the authority 18 of our greatest 
anthropologist, who certainly has no bias"in favour of the 
views I am promulgating, would have carried conviction 
to the mind of anyone willing to be convinced by precise 
evidence. But not to Mr. Keane ! In endeavouring to 
whittle down the significance of this crucial case, he inci- 
dentally illustrates the lengths of unreason to which this 
school of ethnologists will push their argument, when 
driven to formulate a reductio adabsurduin without realiz- 
ing the magnitude of the absurdity their blind devotion to 
a catch-word impels them to perpetrate. 

In Keane's " Ethnology " (41, pp. 217-219) the follow- 
ing passages are found : 

" It is further to be noticed that religious ideas, like 
social usages, are easily transmitted from tribe to tribe, 
from race to race. [Most of my critics base their opposi- 
tion on a denial of these very assumptions ! ] Hence 
resemblances in this order, where they arise, must rank 
very low as ethnical tests. I f not the product of a common 
cerebral structure, they can prove little beyond social 
contact in remote or later times. A case in point is 
[Tylor's statement, which I have just quoted]. 

"The parallelism is complete; but the range of 
thought is extremely limited nothing but mountains and 
knives, beside the river of death common to Egyptians, 
Greeks, and all peoples endowed with a little imagination." 
" Hence Prof. E. B. Tylor, who calls attention to the 
points of resemblance, builds far too much on them when 
he adduces them as convincing evidence of pre-Columbian 
culture in America taking shape under Asiatic influences. 

1S For the whole driving force of the so-called "psychological" ethno- 
logists is really a reverence for authority and a meaningless creed. 



128 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

In the same place he refers to Humboldt's argument 
based on the similarity of calendars and of mythical 
catastrophes. But the ' mythical catastrophes/ floods and 
the like, have long been discounted, while the Mexican 
calendar, despite the authority of Humboldt's name, 
presents no resemblance whatsoever to those of the 
* Tibetan and Tartar tribes,' or to any other of the Asiatic 
calendars with which it has been compared. * There is 
absolutely no similarity between the Tibetan calendar 
and the primitive form of the American,' which, 'was not 
intended as a year-count, but as a ritual and formulary,' 
and whose signs ' had nothing to do with the signs of the 
zodiac, as had all those of the Tibetan and Tartar calen- 
dars ' (D. G. Brinton, 'On various supposed Relations 
between the American and Asian races/ from Memoirs of 
the International Congress of Anthropology, Chicago, 
p. 148). Regarding all such analogies as may exist 
'between the culture and customs of Mexico and those of 
China, Cambodia, Assyria, Chaldaea, and Asia Minor/ 
Dr. Brinton asks pertinently, ' Are we, therefore, to trans- 
port all these ancient peoples, or representatives of them, 
into Mexico?' (ib. p. 147). So Lefevre, who regards as 
' quite chimerical ' the attempts made to trace such re- 
semblances to the Old World. ' If there are coincidences, 
they are fortuitous, or they result from evolution, which 
leads all the human group through the same stages and 
by the same steps' (' Race and Language/ p. 185). 

" Many far more inexplicable coincidencies than any 
of those here referred to occur in different regions, where 
not even contact can be suspected. Such is the strange 
custom of Couvade, which is found to prevail among 
peoples so widely separated as the Basques and Guiana 
Indians, who could never have either directly or indirectly 
in any way influenced each other " (34). 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 10 129 

It is surely unnecessary to comment at length upon 
this quibbling, which is a fair sample of the kind of self- 
destructive criticism one meets in ethnological discussions 
nowadays. Talking of the " limitation of the range of 
thought" when out of the unlimited possibilities for its 
unhampered activities the human mind hit upon four 
episodes of such a fantastic nature, Keane taxes the 
credulity of his readers altogether too much when he 
solemnly tries to persuade them that such ideas are the 
most natural things in the world for mankind to imagine ! 

Surely it would have been better tactics frankly to 
admit the identity of origin, and then, following the 
example of Hough (35), minimize its importance by indi- 
cating the variety of possible ways by which Asiatic 
influence may have influenced America sporadically in 
comparatively recent times. 

But instead of this, Keane insisted upon pushing his 
refusal to admit the most obvious inferences to the 
extreme limit and invoked the practice of Couvade as the 
coup de grace to the views he was criticizing. But it was 
singularly unfortunate for his argument that he selected 
Couvade. His dogmatic assertion that the two peoples 
he selected are " so widely separated " that they could 
" never have either directly or indirectly in any way 
influenced one another" is entirely controverted by the 
fact that, although Couvade is, or was, a wide-spread 
custom, all the places where it occurred are either within 
the main route of the great " heliolithic culture-wave " or 
so near as easily to be within its sphere of influence. 
Thus it is recorded among the Basques, 19 in Africa, India, 
the Nicobar Islands, Borneo, China, Peru, Mexico, Central 
California, Brazil and Guiana. Instead of being a " knock- 

19 Recent literature has thrown some doubt upon its occurrence in 
Western Europe. 



130 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

out blow " to the view I am maintaining, the geographical 
distribution of this singularly ludicrous practice is a very 
welcome addition to the list of peculiar baggage which 
the "heliolithic " traveller carried with him in his wander- 
ings, and a striking confirmation of the fact that in the 
spread from its centre of origin this custom must have 
travelled along the same route as the other practices we 
are examining. 

After the artificialities of Keane and Fewkes, it is a 
satisfaction to turn back to the writings of the old eth- 
nologists who lived in the days before the so-called 
" psychological " and " evolutionary explanations " were 
invented, and were content to accept the obvious inter- 
pretation of the known facts. 

More than eighty years ago, Ellis (15, p. 117) with 
remarkable insight explained the relationships of the 
Polynesians and their wanderings, from Western Asia to 
America, with a lucidity and definiteness which must 
excite the enthusiastic admiration of those familiar with 
the fuller information now available. On p. 119 he 
cites an interesting series of racial factors, usages and 
beliefs in substantiation of the cultural link between the 
Pacific Islands and America. 

Quite apart from the mere evidence provided by the 
arts, customs and beliefs in favour of the transmission of 
certain of the essential elements of American civilization 
from the Old World, there is a considerable amount of 
evidence of another kind, consisting no doubt to a large 
extent of mere scraps. For instance, there are not only 
the stones of Chinese and Japanese junks arriving on 
the American shore and of American traditions of the 
coming of pale-faced bearded men from the east, 20 but 

20 It is quite possible this may refer to the relatively modern incursion 
of Norsemen and other Europeans into America by the North Atlantic. 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 1O. 131 

there is also a certain amount of evidence from the 
physical characters of the population themselves. It has 
been raised as an objection by many people that if there 
had been any considerable emigration of Polynesians into 
America they would have left a much more definite trace 
of their coming in the physical characters of the people 
of America than is supposed the case. But this argument 
does not necessarily carry very much weight, for the num- 
ber of such Polynesians who reached America would 
have been a mere drop in the ocean of the vast aboriginal 
population of the Americas. Moreover, there is a certain 
amount of evidence of the presence of people with Poly- 
nesian traits in certain parts of the Pacific littoral. Von 
Humboldt stated the people of Mexico and Peru had 
much larger beards and moustaches than the rest of the 
Indians. But there is a more striking instance in sub- 
stantiation of the reality of this mixture of Pacific people 
in America which raises the possibility that a certain 
number of Melanesians, whose physical characters, being 
more obtrusive by contrast than those of the Polynesians, 
were more easily detected. In Allen's memoir (2, p. 47) 
the following statements are found : 

" Sir Arthur Helps tells us in his ' History of Spanish 
Conquest in America' that the Spaniards, when they first 
visited Darien under Vasco Nunez, found there a race of 
black men, whom they (gratuitously as it seems to me) 
supposed to be descended from a cargo of shipwrecked 
negroes ; this race was living distinct from the other races 
and at enmity with them," 
and on page 48, 

" Perhaps other black tribes may be discovered upon 
a more careful enquiry, and if the theory of Crawford be 
accepted, which represents the inhabitants of Polynesia 
in Ante-historic times as being a great semi-civilized 



132 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification, 

nation who had made some progress in agriculture and 
understood the use of gold and iron, were clothed ' with 
a fabric made of the fibrous bark of plants which they 
wove in the loom/ and had several domesticated animals, 
a new and unexpected light may possibly be thrown upon 
the origin of primitive American culture. It is certain 
that massive ruins and remains of pyramidal structures 
and terraced buildings closely analogous to those of India, 
Java and Cambodia, as well as to those of Central America, 
Mexico and Peru, exist in many islands of Polynesia, 
such as the Ladrone Islands, Tahiti, Fiji, Easter Island 
and the Sandwich Islands, and the customs of the Poly- 
nesians are almost all of them found to exist also amongst 
the American races." 

" Perhaps here, then, we have the ' missing link ' be- 
tween the Old World civilizations and the mysterious 
civilizations of America." 
t 

SUMMARY. 

Between 4000 B.C. and 900 B.C. a highly complex 
culture compounded of a remarkable series of peculiar 
elements, which were associated the one with the other 
in Egypt largely by chance, became intimately interwoven 
to form the curious texture of a cult which Brock well has 
labelled " heliolithic," in reference to the fact that it in- 
cludes sun-worship, the custom of building megalithic 
monuments, and certain extraordinary beliefs concerning 
stones. An even more peculiar and distinctive feature, 
genetically related to the development of megalithic 
practices and the belief that human beings could dwell in 
stones, is the custom of mummification. 

The earliest known Egyptians (before 4000 B.C.) 
practised weaving and agriculture, performed the opera- 
tion of " incision " (the prototype of complete circum- 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. li.v. (1915), No. 10. 133 

cision), and probably were sun-worshippers. Long before 
3400 B.C. they began to work copper and gold. By 3000 
B.C. they had begun the practice of embalming, making 
rock-cut tombs, stone superstructures and temples. By 
the mere chance that the capital of the united Kingdom 
of Egypt happened to be in the centre of serpent-worship 
(and the curious symbolism associated with it Sethe, 74), 
the sun, serpent and Horus-hawk (the older symbol of 
royalty) became blended in the symbol of sun-worship 
and as the emblem of the king, who was regarded as the 
son of the sun-god. 

The peculiar beliefs regarding the possibility of ani- 
mate beings dwelling in stone- statues (and later even in 
uncarved columns), and of human beings becoming petri- 
fied, developed out of the Egyptian practices of the 
Pyramid Age (circa 2800 B.C.). 

By 900 B.C. practically the whole of the complex 
structure of the "heliolithic" culture had become built up 
and definitely conventionalized in Egypt, with numerous 
purely accidental additions from neighbouring countries. 

The great migration of the " heliolithic" culture-com- 
plex probably began shortly before Soo B.C. [Its influence 
in the Mediterranean and in Europe, as also in China and 
Japan, is merely mentioned incidentally in this communi- 
cation.] 

Passing to the east the culture-complex reached the 
Persian Gulf strongly tainted with the influence of North 
Syria and Asia Minor, and when it reached the west 
coast of India and Ceylon, possibly as early as the end of 
the eighth century B.C., it had been profoundly influenced 
,not only by these Mediterranean, Anatolian and es- 
pecially Babylonian accretions, but even more profoundly 
with Eastern African modifications. These Ethiopian 
influences become more pronounced in Indonesia (no 



134 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

doubt because in India and the west the disturbances 

created by other cults have destroyed most of the evidence). 

From Indonesia the ' heliolithic" culture-complex 

was carried far out into the Pacific and eventually reached 

^the American coast, where it bore fruit in the develop- 
ment of the great civilizations on the Pacific littoral and 
isthmus, whence it gradually leavened the bulk of the 
vast aboriginal population of the Americas. 
[When this communication was made to the Society 
my sole object was to put together the scattered evidence 
supplied by the practice of mummification, and other 
customs associated with it, in substantiation of the fact 
that the influence of ancient Egyptian civilization, or a 
particular phase of it, had spread to the Far East and 
America. Since then so much new information has come 
to light, not only in confirmation of the main thesis, but 
also defining the dates of a_series of cultural waves, that 
it will soon be possible, not only to sketch out in some 
detail the routes taken by the series of ancient mariners 
who spread abroad this peculiarly distinctive civilization, 
but also to identify the adventurers and determine the 
dates of their greatest exploits and the motives for most 
of their enterprises. In collaboration with Mr. J. W. Perry 
I hope soon to be ready to attempt that task. 

I have deliberately refrained from referring to the 
vexed question of totemism in this communication, 
although it is obvious that it is closely connected with 
the " heliolithic " culture. I have used the expression 
" serpent worship " in several places where perhaps it 
would have been more correct to refer to the serpent- 
totem ; but so far from weakening, the consideration of 
totemism will add to the strength and cogency of my 
argument. 

When I assigned (p. 65) a comparatively late date for 



Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 1O. 135 

the extension of the " heliolithic " culture to the western 
Mediterranean and beyond I was not aware that Siret 
(L? Anthropologie> T. 20 and 21, 1909-10) had arrived at 
the same conclusion.] 



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136 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

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140 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

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Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915), No. 10. 141 

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142 ELLIOT SMITH, Distribution of Mummification. 

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Manchester Memoirs, Vol. lix. (1915). No. 10 143 

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